Anonymous, reduced and good to have
by Nina Reetzke | Aug 17, 2012

“Muji”, “Plusminuszero”, “1%” – over the past years a series of new Japanese labels have made their mark on the international market. All of them follow a similar strategy: Reduction and minimalism appear to be their ruling maxim. Furthermore, as their names indicate, they adhere to a no-brand image. It is the products that take center stage, fulfilling the basic needs and requirements of everyday life. Always reduced in their form, deliberate and well thought out in their proportions and details, at times they are traditionally Asian, at others well acquainted with a globally understood design idiom. Products tend to be made of natural materials and when it comes to color, the palette is dominated by black and white or, alternatively, transparent plastic. The products are considered high quality, resource friendly in their production and geared towards sustainability; after all, the collections do last for many years. Even the packaging and marketing tools are deliberately understated; the product should speak for itself. Good value for money aims to appeal to as many customers as possible. There are usually prominent designers behind their designs, though they are rarely named – Naoto Fukasawa, Nendo, Jasper Morrison, Shin and Tomoko Azumi, Enzo Mari, and others besides.

With “K%” by Nendo and “K Projects” there is now another label to add to this series. In its concept, it adheres to Nendo’s design philosophy of wanting to surprise people and give them a small “!” moment, ergo bringing out a basic element in each and every object. The first collection is called “Black on Black” and places emphasis on the relationship between function and structure. The furniture, lighting and accessories in the collection are made predominantly of wood and metal, always in black. The “Melt” chair by Nendo serves as a good paradigm for the rest of the collection, although there are also items by other designers such as Studio Juju and Exit Design.

“K%” cannot and does not aim to provide a completely new take on things. While pioneers such as Muji surprised the market by positioning themselves as an alternative and turning all branding theories on their head, these mechanisms are now well-known; and new companies such as “K%” are making systematic use of them and in so doing they are to a certain degree even bordering on the absurd. But in light of current debates surrounding ethnic consumption, this form of simplicity is as convincing as ever.

Table and stool ”Curve”, photo © KPercent
Table and stool ”Curve”, photo © KPercent
Clock ”Corners”, photo © KPercent
Triangles provide stability, photo © KPercent
One line stretches from a back-leg to arm- and back-rests to a front-leg, photo © KPercent
Table ”Heavy”, photo © KPercent
Blocks moving into one another, photo © KPercent
Magazine rack ”Scissors”, photo © KPercent
Like casually ordered wood-pieces, photo © KPercent
Line-playing similar to a draft, photo © KPercent
Woven structure, photo © KPercent
One of the plains of ”Curve” bends to the middle, photo © KPercent
Storage unit ”Brace”, photo © KPercent
Chair ”Melt”, photo © KPercent
The elements of the chair seem to melt into one, photo © KPercent
Lamp ”Gather”, photo © KPercent
Chair ”Pencil”, photo © KPercent
Stool ”Timber”, photo © KPercent
Book-shelf ”Rain”, photo © KPercent
Partition ”Weave”, photo © KPercent