Feelin' Muji

How do you design by not designing? A retailer's quest for the ultimate in simplicity can be complicated

JUN TAKAGI FOR TIME

Team Muji From left, Go Kimura, Nagamoto, Yoshida, Yusuke Koyama, Yasui and Hajime Ikeuchi.

Satoshi Yasui is the kind of designer who can riff on any product--including socks. Not just any socks, but comfy ones with a 90-degree heel, knit for a perfect fit by Czech grandmothers, that he and his 15-member design team at Muji transformed into one of the Japanese retailer's roughly 7,000 products. "They don't fall off like regular socks, which are usually manufactured with a 120-degree angle," explains Yasui, lifting one cuff of his black jeans to reveal a pair. Yasui--who has been with Muji since the Seiyu supermarket chain created it as a private brand in 1980--says that sometimes the...

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