Towel With Further Options by Japanese designers NIIMI is designed to be recycled as a bath-mat and a cleaning cloth as it wears out.
The concept, by Takuya and Yuki Niimi, references the Japanese tradition of cutting up old yukata (traditional Japanese bathing clothes) to make nappies or floor cloths.
The aim is to extend the useful life of the towelling once the fabric has become old and worn.
The grid-like pattern woven into the towelling acts as a marker for cutting square modules, helping the consumer to imagine future uses.
The design fits easily into the usual production process for towels, where a washcloth is made from a larger piece of towelling by dividing it into squares.
Here are the citations from the judges of the Muji Award:
NIIMI [Takuya Niimi/Yuki Niimi] (Japan)
This bath towel moves your mind toward further uses of the product. Towels take everyday dirt and gradually become damaged. In accordance with such changes, you can downsize the towel with "further options" from a bath towel to a bath mat, and then to a floor cloth and dust cloth.
The towel has a vertical and horizontal textured surface that does not produce pile-fabric waste when cut with scissors. The lines act as a marker for cutting and form square modules that let you imagine other uses, encouraging you to re-use it
Although the winning entry for the Gold Prize may not appear to be new if you know the textile production process, it made me RE-think something. Japanese people used to re-use yukata for diapers or floor cloths.
Kazuko Koike (Muji adviser, Creative Director)
Many products on the market are in completed form when purchased, and you just want to use it for as long as possible. This towel, however, gradually fits more comfortably in your hands and on your body after being washed many times and, some day in the future, might be divided into smaller pieces for use as a washcloth or even a floor cloth. This entry lets me imagine the passing of time. New and convenient products are created everyday, but we also have a strong desire to live simply without increasing our belongings.
Takashi Sugimoto (MUJI adviser, Interior Designer)
The Gold Prize bath towel is very clever. You can use it first as a towel, and then as a bathroom rug when it becomes a little rough, and finally even as a floor cloth. The towel perfectly applied this natural cycle into its design. Using the idea of recycling, which used to be seen in the re-use of kimono back in the Edo period, was also beautiful as a response to the award theme.
Kenya Hara (Muji adviser, Graphic designer)
The Gold Prize towel was highly praised by Muji members. They sure have an intimate knowledge of the production process of towels; a washcloth for example is made from a large piece of towel by dividing it into smaller pieces. Therefore, this idea fits easily into the production process. Muji products value efficiency in the production process, so this idea is superior to many other entries, which represented excellent ideas but were difficult to produce.
Naoto Fukasawa (Muji adviser, product designer)