I’m still assimilating some ideas from Naoto Fukasawa talk yesterday. He was visiting Bay Area to celebrate a new Muji store opening in Palo Alto. I ended up there by a chance, my bad that I didn’t know much about Naoto, but by the end of the day I got amazed with his talk. The tickets got sold out in a couple of hours, but fortunately I got one extra ticket from a friend.
That was probably one of the most lightweight and transparent talks I’ve seen lately. While he talked I could see his fully humanity, reading slides, laughing at himself, asking us to buy from Muji new store.
He told us a story about a trip to China and how he got a Qing Dynasty porcelain replica in a popular market. He bargained to pay only 2 bucks to get a replica. Back to Japan he analyzed the way that the piece was manufactured, he noticed that the replica was actually a very detailed and thorough one, they used the same materials and the same technique from Qing Dynasty. A very beautiful object, very well done and perfectly finished.
So he went back to China and asked about the manufacturer in the popular market, and he visited the manufacturer and hired them to create Muji pieces. Now they still working for Muji. Naoto doesn’t seem to be worried about being judged when he says “we make our own Qing Dynasty pieces now”. He absorbed the best of that saying attributed to Picasso: “Good artists copy, great artists steal”, of course you can inspired, remodel and create over great classics and a great designer is also a great curator. Naoto’s greatness lives in his genuine honesty.
We already have fantastic super normal objects in our daily life that nobody cares about it, but when you put some thought on it, you discover the greatness in the simplicity they have. And that’s Naoto discreet obsession, find simple and beautiful objects in our daily lives.
“When you walk you don’t think about legs or floor, you just walk.” Naoto ideal is to create objects that are background to our daily lives, that makes everything easier and lighter.
Muji doesn’t want to be outstanding, Muji is OK
The zen simplicity of his objects and the way he talked about a very iconographic and symbolic gesture showed me that visual language can be much powerful than the “traditional” branding heaviness. Being “just right” means not only the right material, right size, weight, thickness, but just right means consuming what you really need, not more, not less.
Muji objects are the background of the daily activities, not the central attention. They are not contemplative objects, instead they are designed to be less noisy and as an exact fit for our daily necessities.
When you walk, you don’t think about legs or floor, you just walk, says Naoto.