Downsizable Towel Wipes the Floor with Competition for Muji Award

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The design gurus at Muji have picked a winner for their second annual international design competition, which this year had the theme of “Re:” (as in re-think, re-design, re-use). From 3,422 entries from 47 countries, the winner of the $20,000 Gold Prize is the not-terribly-catchily-named “Towel with further options,” created by Japanese design firm NIIMI (Takuya and Yuki Niimi). The uniquely downsizable towel begins its life as a normal bath sheet, but can then be cut along perforated lines (no frayed edges here!) to become a floor mat, washcloths, or rags.

The judges were looking for ideas with the potential to “raise the awareness and increase the understanding of many people in the world,” without being “obtrusive or far-fetched,” both Muji taboos. “The Muji competition was as difficult to judge this year as last year, with many good ideas to choose from and quite a few problems with existing patents which defeated some entries,” said designer Jasper Morrison, who was on the judging team.

In addition to the Gold Prize, Muji awarded three $2,000 judges’ prizes. Among the winners was “Kakujio,” pre-measured cubes of salt created by Dutch design firm De Meyboom Lab. “Making them in cubes like sugar but reducing the scale for cooking purposes is a great idea,” said Morrison. “The difference in size is a warning that it’s not the usual sugar cube and also a more precise system of dosing the salt than doing it by hand.” Also nabbing judges’ prizes were space-saving, stackable hangers designed by Satoshi Yoshiizumi and the “chrononotebook,” an intuitively-designed day planner created by Wong Kok Keong of Singapore-based Orcadesign.