MUJI Symphony is...
Category: Branding, DFM, Strategic thinking, ID
Time: 2019 Fall, + 2020 Spring 14 + 4 weeks
Software: Procreate, Solidworks, Keyshot, PS
A product design strategy to think about another side of MUJI by developing a new, consistent design language that maintains the brand DNA but fresh
A marketing strategy to bring MUJI back to the US market by targeting millennial partners
Why MUJI Need This?
On July 10, 2020. MUJI officially shut down all its physical retailer stores in the US. Under the global pandemic and economy downfall, people naturally put the blame on the epidemic. But the reality is more complicated than that...
As a matter of fact, other top competitors of MUJI are all surviving under the pandemic, including MINISO and UNIQLO, both of which are from JAPAN as well... Therefore, there should be some deeper factors that triggered the downfall and that may relate to its unique no-brand strategy, which can be somehow an anti-America consumerism approach
What is What MUJI US look like..
White Desert.. Apart from its neutral colorway, the only vibrancy you would find in the store is from its colorful ball point pens and stationery..
This Japanese minimalism works well for the Asian market ( especially for China ), since it matches the interior design trend of Asian families. But for USA, this quiet style does not work well. MUJI needs vibrancy, and contrasting colors to match the energetic, passionate and creative personality of the US customers and their home styles!
What is The Competitors Landscape?
The real top competitors of MUJI USA are the lower price lifestyle brands from JAPAN such as MINISO and UNIQLO, huge e-commerce heads like Amazon, some big American supermarkets like targets and Walmart, and some local lifestyle brands platform like UO and SHINOLA
Thinking strategically, compared with facing the big pressure from huge ecommerce heads, it is much easier to win the lower price retailer market back and gradually occupy the premium retailer market
What are The Competitors Doing Well?
1. Short and straightforward product stories with vivid image to show the function
2. More energetic product colorways and lifestyle shots to resonate with the millennials
3. More playful design language to git rid of the stereotype that the MUJI products are cold
Design Criteria And Inspirations
Modern artifact with traditional technique
International Japanese pop art ( from Yayoi Kusama )
Natural shape like pebbles
We Hate Washing Dishes
Nothing can be more disappointed when you are stuck from work and want to cook a nice dinner to bounce back, but find out there are dozens of unwashed plates in the sink. No worries, you are definitely not the only one who suffers from this. Based on research, 37% of the people in the US hate washing dishes!
Quarantine life is Hard
During the quarantine, everyone's mental health was affected more or less. For partners, the number of quarrels has increased to a certain extent, which is not conducive to the couple's cohabitation life and mutual feelings. In most cases, these quarrels occur in small things, such as washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, or folding clothes ... etc
Product Components and UX
Washing dishes are similar to DJ playing disc, so why not design to make it more fun?
DFM and Usage Scenarios
The main body of the acoustic sound amplifier part is made with porcelain using slip casting technique. To make the maintenance process easier, the bottoms are mass produced with injection molded rubber. The protrusions on the bottom are designed to easily locate the opening for drilling after the main bodies are pulled out from the molds
In order to create a better acoustic effect, all the conjunction parts are designed to have with smooth surface to fit the interior. Also, the protrusion with concave surface are designed to support and hold the phone, meanwhile keeping the microphone holes open. Thus, the sound weave can flow and be amplified
I explored multiple directions of the sound hole patterns, and finally chose the effect that seems to be be fading from center to the edge, I want this to look less noticeable and resonate with the sideview silhouette
MUJI Symphony, Steven He, 2020
ishicoro, prototype, Nato Fukasawa, 2002
I am a big fan of Nato Fukasawa. The feeling of MUJI Symphony was greatly influenced by his work back in 2002, Ishiguro. The soft, irregular pebble-like form gives people a feel of man-made nature, which brings playfulness back to MUJI as well
The acoustic sound amplifier part comes with a long sleek handle, which makes it more portable to be placed anywhere. When unused, it looks like a modern art piece on your table
The dish rack tray part is designed to be mass-produced using the iron-casting technique. I want it to feel simple, elegant, and durable. In order to fulfill this goal, I try to minimize material waste and git rid of unnecessary elements. The tray is made of cast aluminum (recycled) and can be removed from the main base for easy cleaning purposes
The MUJI Symphony set is designed in all views, to fit into any modern kitchen for families with 2-4 members. the silhouette of the top view ( the most commonly seen view ) is designed to go well with the kitchenwares and utensils
The MUJI Symphony set comes with two dish brushes, which are sold separately. The silhouette of both brushes are designed to increase the efficiency during injection molding
The dish brushes come in two different forms for better ergonomics while washing different containers. The long handle helps to easily reach out the hard-to-reach surface of big oily pots or bowls. Whereas the concave surface of another brush is designed to help press down more effortlessly while cleaning hard-to-clean surface
I choose semi-transparent polypropylene as the packaging material since it will make people be curious about what is inside, which is an interesting way to introduce and sell new products
The best way to introduce a new design or attract a new audience group is to allow them to play around with it. And that is also my design intent behind this user experience center