Often times Japanese design is more about improving upon an existing design, rather than creating something new. And when a well-thought out yet subtle redesign drastically improves the way we use something, that in of itself can be revolutionary.
Nothing is ever perfect, and there is always room for kaizen (改善), a Japanese word – it pops up in almost every aspect of Japanese culture – that literally means improve.
The most recent example is this LED Flashlight recently released from Japanese minimal lifestyle retailer MUJI. It has space for two AA batteries and two AAA batteries but it will work with any combination, even just one battery. It simply emits it different glow. As the Tokyo-based designer Chris Palmieri aptly expounds: “This is how you design with graceful degradation.”
But the battery configuration wasn’t the only area the designers focused on. A lightweight, minimal form makes it not only easy to use but aesthetically pleasing, and compatible with almost any room. Rest it head down and it also functions as a nightlight, which many reviewers say that’s exactly how they use it. It’s available through MUJI’s website for 2,990 yen (about $27).