Thanks for the quote and the interesting analysis (by the way, Dagmar is also a colleague of mine at the Lucerne School of Art and Design). I hope you do manage to get hold of, beg, borrow or steal a copy of the book because I’d be interested to know what you make of the whole of it. I’m slightly suspect about Hara’s views in the Muji chapters. Firstly, it feels like a sales pitch for Muji, which felt out of place and secondly, the elephant in the room is that a non-brand is just as much of a brand as anything giltzy. Maybe the difference is in the integrity of promising no more than it delivers and there is certainly real value in that.
Andy, thanks for the comment. The Muji brand is certainly full of contradictions; one of which is an elephant, as you say. And when I say ‘Muji as a hyper-rational identity brand’ I’m talking about that aspect. You can approach Muji as a brand of almost fetished order and control. The shops are you clean and ordered, you can almost envisage your life being that ordered.
Nevertheless, it does open up a much more interesting space than many other responses to desire. A flight to austerity, or back to nature, may well be parts of a sustainable future, but they’re not the whole solution. Brands that avoid aspirational approaches but make their promises with integrity (as you highlight), or sell adequate, ‘just-enough’ solutions may well be part of that too.
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