Back in 1999 Naoto Fukasawa created a prototype for a minimal wall-mounted CD player. He showed it to a director at MUJI and they loved it, which is how it came into production and went on become one of Japan’s most iconic industrial designs of the past decade.
But with almost any design, and especially if it involves technology, there is shelf life. CDs have come and gone but MUJI, quite stubbornly, continued to market their CD player. Up until just recently. In a surprising move, earlier this month the company announced that they were releasing a wall-mount Bluetooth speaker that can be remotely controlled by your smartphone. What they didn’t do was explicitly state that it was a redesign of Naoto Fukasawa’s CD player, which, in fact, is still on sale. But the similarities are strikingly similar.
And while it’s not a bad-looking product by any means, I’m disappointed that they are clinging so tightly to the original design. Fukasawa famously spoke about the inspiration for his CD player, which turned out to be a kitchen vent. The act of pulling on a string to rev up the circulation of the fan blades reminded him of how a CD starts spinning. “It was an amazing feeling when these two images actually synchronized in my mind,” said Fukasawa.
I feel like MUJI missed out on an opportunity to create something new and unique and, instead, clung to an old , irrelevant concept whose blades just don’t spin like they used too. I’m not a big fan.
In a clip from the film “Objectified” Fukasawa talks about his original concept for the CD player
source: MUJI press release