We met with Naoko Yano in Milan, for the opening of Europe’s largest Muji store, part of the chain of no logo (but very design) department stores launched in Japan in the 1980s (see Interni 362). Naoko Yano coordinates the Household Division Design Office of the firm. We asked her to tell us about the latest adventure of the Japanese brand: the market launch – first in Japan, then in Europe (in 2017) – of the Muji Huts: three prefab mini-house models for weekend dwellings, created by three outstanding designers: Naoto Fukasawa, Jasper Morrison e Konstantin Grcic.

“The project fits perfectly into the Muji philosophy,” says Yano-san, “and it is based on the two fundamental concepts that shape our brand: taru wo shiru, which means to know what is enough, and kore de ii, which literally means: this is fine.” In short, a sort of Zen interpretation of the European ‘less is more.’

“For us, it would be an honor to be the heirs to such an important movement as the one that inspired the great architect Mies van der Rohe,” but more modestly, it might simply be stated that “Muji is enough,” as Naoto Fukasawa suggests (the designer who is also a member of the advisory board of the Japanese company).

On the following pages the three designers present their ‘huts’ for “a compact life, a simple, pleasant lifestyle made of truly necessary, useful things for everyday existence,” Naoko Yano concludes.

 

NAOTO FUKASAWA: HUT N.1

How did the idea for ‘your’ Muji Hut get started?
From the need to simplify our lives. If we concentrate on the idea of using the house as a small refuge only on weekends, far from the chaos of the city, our way of living can become ‘easier’… and this is already enough to make life more serene! The Muji Hut was conceived as a sort of second home: it is a bit larger than a camper, but much smaller than a classic house. That’s the concept.

Do you think it could become a form of emergency shelter?
Of course. In difficult situations, dramatic events, it could be an excellent solution. Not just for its functional quality and quick construction methods. Its characteristics of essential, pure, almost primitive space make it a place where people feel better. The aesthetic aspects are put into the background, let’s say, to focus on the essence of the spaces. I think that can make people happy.

What are the main characteristics (materials, finishes, construction modes) of your mini-house?
We should first say that three designers took part in this project: me, Konstantin Grcic and Jasper Morrison (on the following pages, ed.). by chance we used three different materials: Jasper has cork, Konstantin aluminium, and I have wood.

What does the Muji Hut represent, in your view?
In Japan I own a small home, in a very beautiful place, on the slopes of a mountain, where I (happily) spend my weekends: since I am very well aware of what it means to live (well) in a small shelter, I wanted to share this experience with others… that is the very simple reason behind my project.

 

JASPER MORRISON: HUT N. 2

How did this mini-project get started?
Muji had already formed a partnership, in Japan, with a company that makes prefabricated modular homes: so the idea of developing a mini-house for weekends was a natural extension of a project already in progress.

What are the main characteristics (materials, finishes, construction modes) of your mini-house?
I have thought of ‘my’ Muji Hut as a place to spend weekends in full comfort. The layout calls for a single space, apart from the bathroom. The walls are made with wooden panels and most of the floor is in maxi-tatami mats, with the exception of the kitchen, where for practical reasons I chose concrete. The exterior of the prototype is in cork, a material with good insulating properties, but there is also the option of using wooden boards or panels.

What function do you imagine for your Muji Hut? Why?
I imagined it for my family, and I was fascinated by the (democratic) idea that a person could purchase a small piece of land and build a micro-house there at a reasonable cost.

The project was born in Japan, where people pay close attention to the use of space: how do you think it will be received in Europe?
I believe it will definitely be more difficult for us Europeans: we are not used to putting the bed into the cupboard every morning! But there’s always time to learn

 

KONSTANTIN GRCIC: HUT N. 3

What uses have you imagined for your Muji Hut? Why?
I wanted to create simple spaces and to offer a valid alternative to the classic house: after all, in Japan apartments are very expensive. I think the Muji Hut can be a good solution precisely for people who want to buy a small plot of land in the country and make their getaway. My hut is not necessarily a normal dwelling: for me it represents an ‘extra’ space: for example, you could add a guestroom to an ‘official’ house. Or it could become an extra space to live in a different location, transformed into a study, an office, a music room…

Could the Muji Huts become emergency housing units?
Of course. The huts are built by a company that makes emergency spaces: the same construction technology has been applied.

What are the main characteristics (materials, finishes, construction modes) of your mini-house?
It is easy to build and to transport (it can be delivered by truck): an aluminium module with polystyrene panels, made with a ‘sandwich’ system, which has been utilized successfully in difficult situations (natural disasters, conflicts).

Text by Laura Ragazzola

gallery gallery
Naoto Fukasawa.
gallery gallery
The ‘wooden hut’ designed by Naoto Fukasawa for MUJI.
gallery gallery
Fukasawa chose wood as the main material for his prefabricated module. The furnishings are minimal.
gallery gallery
Jasper Morrison
gallery gallery
We met with Naoko Yano in Milan, for the opening of Europe’s largest Muji store, part of the chain of no logo (but very design) department stores launched in Japan in the 1980s (see Interni 362). Naoko Yano coordinates the Household Division Design Office of the firm. We asked her to tell us about the latest adventure of the Japanese brand: the market launch – first in Japan, then in Europe (in 2017) – of the Muji Huts: three prefab mini-house models for weekend dwellings, created by three outstanding designers: Naoto Fukasawa, Jasper Morrison e Konstantin Grcic. “The project fits perfectly into the Muji philosophy,” says Yano-san, “and it is based on the two fundamental concepts that shape our brand: taru wo shiru, which means to know what is enough, and kore de ii, which literally means: this is fine.” In short, a sort of Zen interpretation of the European ‘less is more.’ “For us, it would be an honor to be the heirs to such an important movement as the one that inspired the great architect Mies van der Rohe,” but more modestly, it might simply be stated that “Muji is enough,” as Naoto Fukasawa suggests (the designer who is also a member of the advisory board of the Japanese company). On the following pages the three designers present their ‘huts’ for “a compact life, a simple, pleasant lifestyle made of truly necessary, useful things for everyday existence,” Naoko Yano concludes.   NAOTO FUKASAWA: HUT N.1 How did the idea for ‘your’ Muji Hut get started? From the need to simplify our lives. If we concentrate on the idea of using the house as a small refuge only on weekends, far from the chaos of the city, our way of living can become ‘easier’… and this is already enough to make life more serene! The Muji Hut was conceived as a sort of second home: it is a bit larger than a camper, but much smaller than a classic house. That’s the concept. Do you think it could become a form of emergency shelter? Of course. In difficult situations, dramatic events, it could be an excellent solution. Not just for its functional quality and quick construction methods. Its characteristics of essential, pure, almost primitive space make it a place where people feel better. The aesthetic aspects are put into the background, let’s say, to focus on the essence of the spaces. I think that can make people happy. What are the main characteristics (materials, finishes, construction modes) of your mini-house? We should first say that three designers took part in this project: me, Konstantin Grcic and Jasper Morrison (on the following pages, ed.). by chance we used three different materials: Jasper has cork, Konstantin aluminium, and I have wood. What does the Muji Hut represent, in your view? In Japan I own a small home, in a very beautiful place, on the slopes of a mountain, where I (happily) spend my weekends: since I am very well aware of what it means to live (well) in a small shelter, I wanted to share this experience with others... that is the very simple reason behind my project.   JASPER MORRISON: HUT N. 2 How did this mini-project get started? Muji had already formed a partnership, in Japan, with a company that makes prefabricated modular homes: so the idea of developing a mini-house for weekends was a natural extension of a project already in progress. What are the main characteristics (materials, finishes, construction modes) of your mini-house? I have thought of ‘my’ Muji Hut as a place to spend weekends in full comfort. The layout calls for a single space, apart from the bathroom. The walls are made with wooden panels and most of the floor is in maxi-tatami mats, with the exception of the kitchen, where for practical reasons I chose concrete. The exterior of the prototype is in cork, a material with good insulating properties, but there is also the option of using wooden boards or panels. What function do you imagine for your Muji Hut? Why? I imagined it for my family, and I was fascinated by the (democratic) idea that a person could purchase a small piece of land and build a micro-house there at a reasonable cost. The project was born in Japan, where people pay close attention to the use of space: how do you think it will be received in Europe? I believe it will definitely be more difficult for us Europeans: we are not used to putting the bed into the cupboard every morning! But there’s always time to learn...   KONSTANTIN GRCIC: HUT N. 3 What uses have you imagined for your Muji Hut? Why? I wanted to create simple spaces and to offer a valid alternative to the classic house: after all, in Japan apartments are very expensive. I think the Muji Hut can be a good solution precisely for people who want to buy a small plot of land in the country and make their getaway. My hut is not necessarily a normal dwelling: for me it represents an ‘extra’ space: for example, you could add a guestroom to an ‘official’ house. Or it could become an extra space to live in a different location, transformed into a study, an office, a music room... Could the Muji Huts become emergency housing units? Of course. The huts are built by a company that makes emergency spaces: the same construction technology has been applied. What are the main characteristics (materials, finishes, construction modes) of your mini-house? It is easy to build and to transport (it can be delivered by truck): an aluminium module with polystyrene panels, made with a ‘sandwich’ system, which has been utilized successfully in difficult situations (natural disasters, conflicts). Text by Laura Ragazzola
gallery gallery
Naoto Fukasawa.
gallery gallery
The ‘wooden hut’ designed by Naoto Fukasawa for MUJI.
gallery gallery
Fukasawa chose wood as the main material for his prefabricated module. The furnishings are minimal.
gallery gallery
Jasper Morrison
gallery gallery
We met with Naoko Yano in Milan, for the opening of Europe’s largest Muji store, part of the chain of no logo (but very design) department stores launched in Japan in the 1980s (see Interni 362). Naoko Yano coordinates the Household Division Design Office of the firm. We asked her to tell us about the latest adventure of the Japanese brand: the market launch – first in Japan, then in Europe (in 2017) – of the Muji Huts: three prefab mini-house models for weekend dwellings, created by three outstanding designers: Naoto Fukasawa, Jasper Morrison e Konstantin Grcic. “The project fits perfectly into the Muji philosophy,” says Yano-san, “and it is based on the two fundamental concepts that shape our brand: taru wo shiru, which means to know what is enough, and kore de ii, which literally means: this is fine.” In short, a sort of Zen interpretation of the European ‘less is more.’ “For us, it would be an honor to be the heirs to such an important movement as the one that inspired the great architect Mies van der Rohe,” but more modestly, it might simply be stated that “Muji is enough,” as Naoto Fukasawa suggests (the designer who is also a member of the advisory board of the Japanese company). On the following pages the three designers present their ‘huts’ for “a compact life, a simple, pleasant lifestyle made of truly necessary, useful things for everyday existence,” Naoko Yano concludes.   NAOTO FUKASAWA: HUT N.1 How did the idea for ‘your’ Muji Hut get started? From the need to simplify our lives. If we concentrate on the idea of using the house as a small refuge only on weekends, far from the chaos of the city, our way of living can become ‘easier’… and this is already enough to make life more serene! The Muji Hut was conceived as a sort of second home: it is a bit larger than a camper, but much smaller than a classic house. That’s the concept. Do you think it could become a form of emergency shelter? Of course. In difficult situations, dramatic events, it could be an excellent solution. Not just for its functional quality and quick construction methods. Its characteristics of essential, pure, almost primitive space make it a place where people feel better. The aesthetic aspects are put into the background, let’s say, to focus on the essence of the spaces. I think that can make people happy. What are the main characteristics (materials, finishes, construction modes) of your mini-house? We should first say that three designers took part in this project: me, Konstantin Grcic and Jasper Morrison (on the following pages, ed.). by chance we used three different materials: Jasper has cork, Konstantin aluminium, and I have wood. What does the Muji Hut represent, in your view? In Japan I own a small home, in a very beautiful place, on the slopes of a mountain, where I (happily) spend my weekends: since I am very well aware of what it means to live (well) in a small shelter, I wanted to share this experience with others... that is the very simple reason behind my project.   JASPER MORRISON: HUT N. 2 How did this mini-project get started? Muji had already formed a partnership, in Japan, with a company that makes prefabricated modular homes: so the idea of developing a mini-house for weekends was a natural extension of a project already in progress. What are the main characteristics (materials, finishes, construction modes) of your mini-house? I have thought of ‘my’ Muji Hut as a place to spend weekends in full comfort. The layout calls for a single space, apart from the bathroom. The walls are made with wooden panels and most of the floor is in maxi-tatami mats, with the exception of the kitchen, where for practical reasons I chose concrete. The exterior of the prototype is in cork, a material with good insulating properties, but there is also the option of using wooden boards or panels. What function do you imagine for your Muji Hut? Why? I imagined it for my family, and I was fascinated by the (democratic) idea that a person could purchase a small piece of land and build a micro-house there at a reasonable cost. The project was born in Japan, where people pay close attention to the use of space: how do you think it will be received in Europe? I believe it will definitely be more difficult for us Europeans: we are not used to putting the bed into the cupboard every morning! But there’s always time to learn...   KONSTANTIN GRCIC: HUT N. 3 What uses have you imagined for your Muji Hut? Why? I wanted to create simple spaces and to offer a valid alternative to the classic house: after all, in Japan apartments are very expensive. I think the Muji Hut can be a good solution precisely for people who want to buy a small plot of land in the country and make their getaway. My hut is not necessarily a normal dwelling: for me it represents an ‘extra’ space: for example, you could add a guestroom to an ‘official’ house. Or it could become an extra space to live in a different location, transformed into a study, an office, a music room... Could the Muji Huts become emergency housing units? Of course. The huts are built by a company that makes emergency spaces: the same construction technology has been applied. What are the main characteristics (materials, finishes, construction modes) of your mini-house? It is easy to build and to transport (it can be delivered by truck): an aluminium module with polystyrene panels, made with a ‘sandwich’ system, which has been utilized successfully in difficult situations (natural disasters, conflicts). Text by Laura Ragazzola [gallery ids="105696,105693,105698,105700,115704,115702,115705,115709,115711"]
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