• design camp
mui/無為, wood x IoT interior products, takes up a new challenge to stay close naturally to human lifestyle

Interior product, mui, is a company who combines the IoT technology and wood, and has been receiving attention from global technology companies and start-ups.

mui
The main goal for NISSHA Inco.,/ mui Lab Inc., to achieve through mui is not to make our lives easier though technologies, but on the contrary, to remind us of our natural surroundings and re-discover beauty around us. Having some wood pieces as part of our lives can bring warmth to our lives, and consequently soften up the atmosphere the impersonal technology might bring. mui is aiming to present itself as a quiet and natural existence with the combination between the wood and technology.
Team mui has decided to choose our site to further dig into its stories that support its concept. And here is the program that they have used during the comp at Hidakuma.

mui – the technology that stays close to us

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First we have decided to focus on interface, which connects technology and ourselves. We live with technology, surrounded by information. While technology provides us with great convenience, it may appear to be impersonal from time to time. Turned-off computer screen, for example, may look monotonous. Or possibly it may give you overwhelming feel when it is constantly left switched-on. We value interface as the presence of technology. In the meantime, we found that there is no right balance between it and our life style that we have preciously nurtured. We live in various space and environment – spaces for working, living, resting, sleeping, eating, and shopping. We wanted organic wood feel to be part of the presence of technology in our living spaces, as it is one of the most ancient yet closest existence of materials in our lives. By using materials as an interface that have warm feel such as wood, it is our hope, as product designer, that the cold, impersonal impression technology has may soften.
Our product mui send many messages to users. They can be information from the nature, or the feelings of people who nurture nature. They can also be the sound of wind and forest. We believe that the texture of wood can connect users with forest by reminding of the old memories of his/her individual experience with one in the past. It is also mui’s belief that technology can make it possible not just to maximize the use of information, but also to remind us of the surrounding nature and lead to rediscover their beauty. We had nature all around us in the past – beauty in woodworks we would see in our everyday lives, that includes the finish and chamfering of wood, the way to cut and shape the wood to enhance its grain pattern, the skills to select the right wood piece, craftsmen’s professional eyes, the strength and flexibleness wood has to offer and joinery methods to make the most of them, knowledge on wood, and traditions that have been passed on to, and things that have been lost along the way… Currently, in the world we live in, where technology has made the presence of wood “gentle existence”, we would like to believe that where mui is heading, with the combination of wood and technology, coincides with the current trend of how the wood is perceived. We imagine that mui products being used in your important place or the space where people gather together to create something. And also we believe that the presence of our wooden appearance can offer some warmth and softening the impersonal impression technology may bring. We are hoping that our products will stay idle, naturally (mui-shizen), and quietly in this affluent time to come, and that is why we chose the name mui(無為)for our product as it perfectly describes its significance.

https://mui.jp/#en

Project Overview

Support Contents

・Customized Tour
  – Learn about the characteristics of hardwood that mui, touch-censored IoT products, uses.
  – Look into the significance of using hardwood, while you learn the current situations of forestry industry.
・Hold a workshop in which local craftsmen as well as the user take part
・Make a prototype at a studio with wood working digital machine
・Create “Customer’s Journey Map”

Programs

・Kids play sessions with wood pieces and observations
・Visits to hardwood sawmills
・Study session of artisan Kumiki technology – the Hida’s craftsmen culture
・Workshops with local craftsmen and users
・Lectures on forestry
・Walks in hardwood trees
・Chopsticks making workshop
・Creating “customer’s journey map”
・Prototyping 

Clients

mui Development Team, NISSHA Inc., 
*mui Lab Inc., was established on October 27, 2017, which was after the camp session.

The participants are from different departments across the company – soft and hard engineers, ID and UIUX designers, and producers. This is to aim that the company would share core will and intention by thinking through the foundation of the products together, which should help get over any challenges through the production.

Camp Program

Day 1

07:00     Departing from Kyoto  
11:30   Check-in at Hidakuma  
12:00-13:00 Lunch
13:00-14:30 Kids’ Program with wooden pieces and observation at FabCafe
15:00-16:00 Visit to the sawmill, the largest hardwood process facility in Gifu
16:00-17:30 Visit to Takumikan Craft Museum, where you can learn kumiki joinery
17:30-19:00 Workshop
*Workshop participants: All involved in the forestry processes from the beginning to the tail end; craftsmen, carpenters, logger, Wood Education Association organizers, and staff from Forestry Promotion Department at Hida City Council.
All participants had a chance to share their views and for discussions.
19:00-20:00 Dinner 
20:00-21:00 Lectures on forestry (by a department head of Forestry Promotion Department at Hida City Council)

Day 2

07:30-08:15 Breakfast 
08:30-11:00 Walks in the woods
11:00-13:00 Chopsticks making @FabCafe Hida
13:00-14:00 Lunch using personally made chopsticks of your own
14:00-15:00 Open discussion and sharing your thoughts on your experiences of using your hand-made chopsticks
15:15-17:00 Selecting materials that suit mui products, thinking of shapes and creating prototypes.
17:00-19:00 Concept building
19:00-21:00 Dinner

Day 3

08:00- 09:00 Breakfast
09:00-11:00 Creating customer’s journey map to find your own user types
11:00-12:00 Presentation
12:00-13:00 Lunch
13:00-14:00 Making shape prototypes at the studio
14:00   Departing Furukawa, Hida

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Children pick their favorite hardwood pieces from a few different types of hardwood, and take initiatives to make their own pieces. They are angels of abundant creativity!

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We visited a sawmill, who handles hardwood more than any other sawmills in Gifu prefecture. Here we study about the process of wood manufacturing for various wood types, how we maximize the use of every piece of wood that has been made along the process, and characteristics of each wood trees. There are only limited number of sawmills who operates on hardwood throughout Japan. This reveals the fact that the hardwood is not fully made use of. Mr. Nishino, the president of the sawmill company makes sure that he would take orders from every customer including small individual orders. This means that the order is rather small and the profit being minimum, yet he believes that taking small orders helps the local materials to be further utilized.

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Also we visited Takumikan Craft Museum, where visitors can see and experience the kumiki joinery of Hida artisans. You can come across a variety of techniques that artisans devoted themselves with to support the country. You will also learn here to realize how this local technique is an important factor to make up Hida’s identity, industry, and the town itself.

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We have a break with beautiful dinner that is made with amazing water from Hida.

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As you walk through the woods, you will use all five senses to feel the great power that nature and life have to offer. At the same time, you will see the reality of the downsized forestry industry and very little use of the forest areas.

Picking up a wood type, using Kanna, plane, to make chopsticks… all these activities help you learn about hardwood’s characteristics and what it would be suitable for.

Lunch is served… with the chopstick of your own. This is the moment to test to see how well you made them, checking to see how close they are to the level of good grips you imagined as you made them.

We discuss and share our thoughts and comments on making chopsticks as well as pros and cons of the process.

How, and in what shape can we best express the concept of mui? What type of wood is best suited for electric appliances mui? What is the information that we need to pass on to the users through IoT? Those are some of the questions we discuss in our sessions.

We streamline the ideas.

Dinner is at a local restaurant that serves fresh fish. This relaxing off-time is very important as we transform what you have learned as input into an output.

Dinner is at a local restaurant that serves fresh fish. This relaxing off-time is very important as we transform what you have learned as input into an output.

We end the camp with presentations from each group.

”How about oval?” as someone throws the idea, and we start working with a wood piece on a woodworking machine.

Comments from mui members of NISSHA Inc.,

Kazunori Ohki, Producer / CEO of mui Lab Inc.,

I have learned that the time we spend in Hida itself speaks its brand story, and having experienced this precious time here helped me later on have founded mui Lab. The soundings has trees and forest so close to the local people’s life, which also helped me re-discover the value of mui.

Nobuyasu Watabe, Creative Director

Surrounded for three days by this unique atmosphere Furukawa has, I focused on thinking only about the goodness of wood. Specialists from different backgrounds all gathered to think of the one theme in order to resolve ambiguous issues one by one. It was a delightful opportunity to learn more about wood, which I deal greatly with in my work. I also learned during the session that there were so many positive aspects of Japan that I had not been even aware of.

Takashi Haruhara, Chief Soft Engineer

It was the best three days – having an opportunity to share thoughts with my team members in unreal environment with trees and forest all around us, and also to drink and talked even more over local sake in the evening! The whole experience is our asset now.

Shuhei Miyashita, Material Engineer

Children’s flexible ideas, material processing that meets the need for the local people, how the local government manages the forest, sophisticated artisan’s technique… It was great three days to think about forestry from different perspectives. It was all very precious experience. I would highly recommend making chopsticks!

mui actively participate in many events including world high-tech conferences and pitch events, and is enjoying great media exposure,. It also has launched a collaboration with top fashion brand, BEAMS.

International Projects in the Past
http://thebridge.jp/2017/12/mtrl-hong-hong

International Media Press Release
http://www.sciencefocus.com/gallery/gadgets/cool-gadgets-list-november-2017#mui-smart-wood

『mui lab』Facebook Account
https://www.facebook.com/muilab/

Interested in learning about trees, forest, traditional wood technique, and country life style through a camping trip here?

We offer the most suited customized programs to a variety of groups and companies. Some of the examples of participants includes: company staff in planning department who are planning to use plain wood materials in new products; architect and designers who are thinking about using hardwood for his/her future architecture or furniture products; and teachers who are looking for a camp program with a theme of sustainability and community involvement. Please feel free to contact us.  

For more details on camping plans, please click here.
For inquiries, please click here.