Rethinking Anonymous Design - When the Name Disappears Friday, 23 October ― Sunday, 14 March 2021

Anonymous Design refers to those objects made by unknown, unheralded designers, responsible for mass-market products intended for daily use.  The products’ creators’ names are not known to us, then or now.  In Japan, the term was first introduced by product designer Sori Yanagi at the 1960 World Design Conference.  He later wrote:

Design is now a common, popular word.  Everybody talks about design, and designers are prized. Such credited design stands in contrast to Anonymous Design, a term coined to recognize that there should be design without designers involved. … (MUJIRUSHI no Hon, Libroport 1988)

Yanagi’s term raises questions in a world full of design, and even now reminds us that function comes first, before design.

In this sixtieth year since the 1960 World Design Conference, Atelier Muji asks us to reconsider the significance of Anonymous Design in our time.

Atelier Muji Gallery 1 has curated three exhibits from Mr. Keiji Nagai’s vast and valuable modern design collection.

Mr. Nagai always emphasizes with pride that he “never wanted things for the names of designers or for the brand or for the historical importance of the objects.”  While the majority of his collection bears designers’ signatures, all of his collection bears an unpretentious expression and unassuming form, without screaming “design”.  Mr. Nagai’s collection is unique, notable for his purely aesthetic judgement, not influenced by information about the objects.

We also believe talented designers can create outstanding, if anonymous, design.

This exhibit showcases some 100 remarkable objects of the 20th Century, famous and unknown.  The objects are placed without reference to dates, designers, producers or manufacturers.  Looking at objects’ functionality and form without knowing names may change our relationship with them.  It may give us an opportunity to recognize that the differences between Anonymous Design and “Design“ are ambiguous, and the boundaries disappear.


 View handout(PDF:297KB)

Friday, 23rd October 2020 ― Sunday, 14th March 2021
Opening times :
10:00 ~ 21:00 *Please check this website for opening hours.
ATELIER MUJI Gallery1 (6F, MUJI GINZA),Admission free
Organizer :
Keiji Nagai
Space design:
Wataru Kumano
Graphic design:
Yuko Higashikawa
Site construction:
HIGURE 17-15 cas
Planning and Management:
Household Division / Household Design, Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd. and ATELIER MUJI GINZA (MUJI GINZA)