GO UP

What does the home of Muji CEO, Masaaki Kanai, look like? He tells us in this interview.

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Last September, Masaaki Kanai presented a compact wooden wheelchair to the crowd at Habitare. Designed by a Japanese designer and made using Finnish wood, it introduced a solution for wheelchair travellers who may have trouble with metal detectors. This gesture was not only symbolic of the friendship between the Finns and Japanese, but also a representation of Muji’s values: Creating better lives with simple and functional design, whether it’s through clothing or prefabricated homes.

What can Muji offer the Finns, who are great fans of the brand?
I think we can improve the daily lives of the Finns, not with something gorgeous or luxurious, but with simple products like cleaning tools… and even socks (laughs). We don’t have a Muji store here yet, but are getting lots of offers. We’ll need to think about the best place for the first store in Finland.

Japanese design is often thought to focus on problem-solving. What’ s a solution that has yet to be designed?
Rather than think about what is missing or insufficient, we should look at the excess of goods and information in our daily lives. There are too many things and trends, which takes our liberty – the liberty to choose what we really need – away from us. Muji is the antithesis of excessive consumerism; we simplify things.

What can the Japanese learn from the Finns?
Despite their difficult history, the Finns have created a safe country with free education and healthcare. The people are sincere about sharing the responsibility of building the country with their government, and pay high taxes – there is a lot to learn from this structure. And like Singapore, the country’s lack of natural resources has created a deep appreciation for the people and their creativity. This makes their designs and creations powerful and, in turn, brings great value to the country.

Share with us what your own home looks like.
My family and I live in an old, onebedroom apartment in Ikebukuro, which is very close to our main office. I’ve renovated it and included Muji furniture, of course, but also those of designers I like and whom Muji has worked with. I collect pieces from designers like Naoto Fukasawa, Jasper Morrison, James Irvine, Konstantin Grcic, Enzo Mari, and Sam Hecht.

VISIT MUJI’S LARGEST FLAGSHIP STORE IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA AT #01-10 TO 17 PLAZA SINGAPURA, 68 ORCHARD ROAD.