The New Yorker - The Commercial Zen of Muji < 5min

Muji was launched in Japan in 1980, as Mujirushi Ryohin, which means “no-brand quality goods.” It was intended to be a generic line for the Seiyu Supermarket Group, boasting the tagline “Lower prices for a reason.” Initially, Muji included only forty different products, mainly food and household goods. Today, it is an independent two-billion-dollar company, selling more than seven thousand items ranging from furniture to soap. It keeps prices low by paying close attention to processing and packaging (most of Muji’s paper products are unbleached), and by using undesirable and industrial materials, which are cheaper in bulk (it once famously sold “U-Shaped Spaghetti,” made from the discarded ends of pasta). ... According to its 2015 year-end report, Muji is currently in what it calls its “jump” phase (preceded by “hop” and “step”), defined by growth abroad and efficiency at home. ... Muji has succeeded in part by incorporating the aesthetic consequences of cost-cutting into its design philosophy.