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Zen Business - relation of Zen, design and fashion

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Zen Business identifies the relation of Zen as a meditative state, a practice to achieve enlightenment and truth that is able to transform into business foundation in the society. After study the characteristics of Zen and explaining the necessity of this value behind fashion business, extract successful factors from the companies that have applied Zen in certain ways, the result is a list of guideline for the companies in creative industry that would like to apply Zen into the business model, from the core value of the enterprise to communication strategy on its stakeholders.
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I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the following members’ guidance and advices in helping me completing my dissertation. Firstly, I would like to thank Ms. Zancarli and Mr. Torboli as my tutors and beloved professors over the years, for always encouraging me to improve my work; Mr. Conti, Mr. Giordano and Mr. Simonelli for giving me valuable information and suggestions. I am grateful to all my lecturers and classmates for their support. Special thanks to Master JieXian and Master ZhenJing, thank you for your time and patience in answering my questions at any time and giving me inspiration on the topic of this paper, you are my life mentors. Finally, I would like to acknowledge my family and friends for always supporting me financially and emotionally.


The following content identifies the relation of Zen as a meditative state, a practice to achieve enlighten-ment and truth that is able to transform into business foundation in the society. After study the character-istics of Zen and explaining the necessity of this value behind fashion business, extract successful factors from the companies that have applied Zen in certain ways, the result is a list of guideline for the companies in creative industry that would like to apply Zen into the business model, from the core value of the enter-prise to communication strategy on its stakeholders.

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The term ‘Zen’ stated in the following content is included but not limited to Japanese Zen schools’ teaching. It is an association of all factions of Zen doctrine including the Northern and Southern schools from China, as well as Soto and Rinzai branches from Japan. The writer’s own understanding and implementation on Zen cause this as it assembled all her study on the topic until this moment. After all, the writer is not (yet) a master of Zen, and by any means, true Zen remains in mystery that only oneself can realize.



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I-i The characteristics of Zen I-ii Zen and its Relation with Design and Fashion I-iii Purpose of having Zen in the business I-iv Benefits for Zen Business I-v Zen and the West


II-i Apple Case II-ii MUJI Case II-iii The Toyota Way II-iv Communication: MUJI Product Fitness 80 Exhibition and Lovemarks

CHAPTER III RESULT III-i Seven Principle of Zen Business III-ii Limitation














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Program ‘Spiritual Reality - The Journey Within’ explains the meditation and meditative experience as the process of the cosmic energy transverse into life force. During the meditation, a flow of cosmic energy runs through the body and assists on release the physical pain and mental sufferance. This cosmic energy is provided to generate from unconscious sleep or conscious meditation, is the source for basic human actions and functions. More cosmic energy one obtains; more physically active and healthy person is likely to be. (spiritual-reality.com, 2005)

Coincidentally, related result appeared in the research conducted by the National Academy of Scienc-es on emotions and the relation with body topographies. 701 participants from western Europe and eastern Asia were asked to color the bodily regions’ activity in reaction to emotional words, stories, movies and facial expression. The color red represented increasing body sensation and blue was for lowering activities. Research indicated between 12 basic and non-basic emotions; happiness was the keyword for activating the body from head to toe, hence the emotion with most energy flows through the body. (Hari, 2013)

These two researches are supporting each other from both meditative and scientific point of view. After all, isn’t the eternal purpose of living is ‘happily ever after’? Reckon the cosmic energy flow through the body is the supplementary amount of ecstasy that cannot acquire from living; it is the satisfaction and self-realization towards an upgrade level of the realm, in other words, the universe of Zen.

The relevance of Zen, design and fashion might not be able to detect evidently from the first scam, but the link between the realm of Zen, Zen aesthetics and Zen design has evolved in centuries and beloved by people from both the East and the West. Acknowledging the popularity of Zen, the fol-lowing suggests an innovative marketing management strategy for businesses in the creative industry, encourages a profound core value and building a healthful trading environment for the benefit of the society.


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it is not the only way to achieve Zen realm. There are Zen schools in Japan highlight the meditation practice, as Soto School with ‘only meditate’ conviction. Nevertheless, it was HuiNeng’s teaching that meditation and wisdom are equally the same; with wisdom, meditation could be done under any circumstances. The founder of the Rinzai school was enlightened by a cook in the shrine according to the tale. (Dumoulin, 2005b) Zen is the religion of life; how one lives in yesterday will live the same way today and tomorrow. Zen enlightenment is ‘mumbo-jumbo’; with one word more or one word less will not be the enlightenment of Zen. Since the methodology is completed, nothing less or more, neither lack nor too much, the process of seeking Zen is in the perfect unity.

The formality of Zen, many inherited by the Japanese from ancient China since the 16th century, is the primary impression on Zen for large numbers of people. The service of the ceremonies and guidelines simplifies the idea of Zen into materialized contents that allow to be encountered with five senses without misled and destroy the core concept of Zen, deliver the message to a broader group of listeners. Adjust the facts that the evolution of Zen in Japan was deeply bonded with political and military factors, it was obligatory to format Zen into verbal and material contents. In fact, it is still a need to communicate Zen with the support from multiple mediums nowadays. Only very few of the wise masters will be awake in enlightenment after their life-study on Zen, the possibility of a regular person achieving the same stage from his/her daily life is an improbable event. However, if the goal is tantamount to gather the audience, to build a shelter and be the guiding star for the lost sheep, an introductory level of content is needed. The concept needs to transform into words, images, objects and space, the story needs to be told, listened, and to be understood. Thanks to Zen’s flexibility, it can be applied and transform to accompany the transmission method; whether it is business, marketing, design or other fields, the concept of Zen will modify according to the characteristic of the channel.



Observing the history of marketing evolved from product marketing to relationship building, especially in the creative industry where emotional attachment related to certain brand is highly encouraged, Zen seems to be a complete opposition, when it is about detachment and self-awakening. To define the relation of Zen and business, one might need to step back and have an examination on Zen itself.

I-i The Characteristics of Zen

Essentially, many have made the confusion between Zen and Buddhism that Zen unlike Buddhism, does not constitute as a religion. Evolving from Buddhism, Zen concept is ‘unusual’ and does not limit to religious rituals. The ‘disunity’ of Zen meaning there is no necessity to worship the symbol-ized Buddha; all living things have equality status as the Buddha, which are eventually the same. Look-ing upon to the realm of Buddha, study to be one without worshiping the appearance of Buddha and ask anything in return. In the history of Zen, there were stories such as burning the Buddha statue on fire for warmth or beating the Buddha and left it eaten by dogs. (Dumoulin, 2005a) This injury indicates regardless the religious belief, Zen is a universal language, for the reason that it is already breathing inside one’s heart. The principle of Zen ‘a special transmission, outside the scriptures’ indicates the secret of Zen can only approach by heart but not words. Observing the mind without words or other objects remains Zen’s core concept. The teaching of Zen does not depend on the use of letters or words but direct an individual’s soul in order to see one’s nature and attain Buddhahood, which is beyond any religion. (Borup, 2008)

If Zen doesn’t believe in Buddha/God, then why it doesn’t deny its existence? Zen is both religious and ultra-religious; it is both the reality and sublimation of the problem; its aesthetics are figurative and abstract; it exists and beyond existence. Therefore Zen is the highest expression of equality in spirit and the universe. The intuition, as the Sixth Patriarch HuiNeng discovered ‘a honest heart is the meditation room’, without diversion and do not rely on diversity, is the phase of enlightenment. (Master GengYuen, 1991)

Trace back to Zen history, some might detect there weren’t many disciplines and guidelines to follow through self-cultivation of Zen. Even the action of meditation was not mandatory in various schools of Zen. HuiNeng commented: “When you have a life, you are able to meditate; when you are dead; the body lies down. With a dead body, whom are you meditating for? ” (Quoted Chin-kang Ching, cited in Master GengYuen, 1991) Hardcore meditation should not be the trap on the pursuit of dis-engagement. Indeed meditation helps to strengthen the body, release stress and disburden oneself,


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I-ii Zen and its Relation with Design and Fashion

It might seem peculiar to relate Zen, a meditative state ‘up in the cloud’, associate with fash-ion, an industry ‘down to the earth’ conjointly in one phrase. Even so there are common grounds of Zen and fashion whether have or have not yet been discovered.

Allow here to states the variability and commonality of Zen once again. Separates from any other kind of religion, philosophical intellect and belief, Zen is an abundant topic that may humbly conclude as a combination of all the categories mentioned. The typical approach to practice Zen is to participate and devote one’s body and mind completely to the attain-ment of Zen, which usually includes sit-down meditation and self-realized in the wisdom of Zen. This procedure involves years of practice yet only very few of these participants will awaken in Zen and enlighten in the everlasting peace. This is the basic passage to at-tain Zen. There was an exception as the Sixth Patriarch and the founder of Southern Zen school, HuiNeng, enlightened and realized the truth of Zen without conducting hard-core sitting meditation; but a master like this appeared once in a thousand years. Today Japanese Zen Buddhists remain the primitive training style since 17th Century, on the hidden moun-tain away from the world of mortal. (Porter, 2010)

This mysterious and abstruse figure of Zen Buddhists was commoners’ impression on Zen. However, thanks to Japan’s rapid international market development in the last century and the constant study on Zen and Zen culture of both eastern and western scholars, many people have generated a much thorough understanding on Zen concepts. In the contem-porary society, people suffer in the tense world, cling to ones own existence, attach and rely on the social status cause unnecessary anxiety, fear and torment. The hedonic treadmill, the term describes the impermanence of pleasure and happiness, was coined by Brickman and Campbell (1971, cited in Frederick 2007) in the article ‘Hedonic Relativism and Plan-ning the Good Society’, suggested the satisfactions due to events or life changes are fading hastily, which eventually one will desire more. The unstable joy caused by external affairs is inadequate and insufficient; one may access the eternal contentment by practicing Zen. When the hunger of intangible appetence is reduced and contained and the acceptance and appreciation of natural cause is increased, one might touch the surface of Zen and better digest the turbulences in life. As the old saying, ‘Witness the fact and flow with it’.

Consider this as the modern accessible implementation of Zen. It is in contact with the teaching of Zen, addresses the common living condition of human despite their cultural background. Meanwhile it is feasible to practice the theory in action because these are the issues of living one confronts everyday. Though it is one single doctrine extends from a great idea, it is intimately related to people’s life.

Zen is looking for its communication method in the ongoing society. In order to word the profound thoughts to practical activity, Zen has to develop its own philosophy and transmits to listeners. Compare to visit a meditation center or ever have the chance to meet with Zen masters, an object of reminder on the Zen spirit might serves just enough. This


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harmony and unity. Through the history of progression in design, two genres of minimalism affect each other that at this point it is rather intricate to differentiate one with the other, nevertheless it is critical for decorative features to be based on cogitations of Zen, to truly be called as Zen aesthetics. (Cox, 2003)

Fashion wasn’t considered as a proper business until the early 20th century. From the luxury en-tertainment only available for the rich and famous to the revolution of Ready-to-Wear in the 70’s, fashion entered the international market and blooming in the new era. The tern ‘fashion’ defined by the Italian dictionary Garzanti (1993) as ‘the more or less changeable usage that, deriving from the prevailing taste, is imposed on habits, way of living, and forms of dress.’ (Cited in Corbellini, Saviolo, 2009, p.4) Fashion is often the synonym of clothes but it represents much more than garments but a combination of inner and outer self, a symbol to indicate civilization and social culture, a business card created by all elements on one’s body. (Devoto, 1995, cited in Corbellini, Saviolo, 2009, p.4) The fashion industry nowadays is a multi-billion playground for creators and marketers; no other industry is able to combine style, art, technology, creativity and functionality perfectly together in one. It meets consumers’ demands, creates their needs, contributes to social-cultural development and defines ev-er-shifting identities and relationships between mankind. Fashion has its specific context. Any piece of item one dresses is representing that person’s identity, status and personality. Fashion evolves from Haute Couture to Ready-to-Wear and to fast fashion, increase market shares and segmentations in accessories, beauty, housewares, furniture, even travel destinations and lifestyle, it is penetrating in everyone’s life. (Corbellini, Saviolo, 2009)

Which is the reason why to associate fashion with Zen. A contemporary and most eye-catching communication tool with high plasticity and countless possibility to reform its shape, fashion is in a position to correspond Zen and propagates for the concept. The strength in visual and the com-bination with social-culture factors are definitely a market sensation, especially following the macro trend of healthy simple lifestyle and environmental sustainability in the resent years. As fashion is getting more influential, the company’s performance and responsibility to the society are critical, since consumers taking brand value, brand image and the product itself together into account in purchasing decision-making. Analysis done by WWF-UK on the ten biggest luxury-fashion enterpris-es on their environmental, social and governance performance showed on a scale from A to F, the highest rank is C+, given to the French L’Oreal Group. A relatively disappointed result reflected the best performing luxury companies were not so ethnical as they promoted. (Bendell and Kleanthous, 2007) Same patterns appeared in the mass market: fast-fashion houses offered up to 18 collections a year, encouraged people to purchase one third more garment comparing year 2006 to 2002. Raising issues in unfair labors, sweatshops and environmental pollution, it is both company’s and consumer’s question to consider if it is truly worthy to pay such consequences. (ethicalfashionforum.com, 2013) The necessity of introducing Zen business into the fashion industry is to create a sustainable business environment through design, production, distribution and promotion, communicating a healthy life-style to the stakeholders, in result bonding a profound relationship in the community and benefiting the society at large. Since Zen is a source of infinity apprehension and energy, it is the unlimited source of inspiration and creativity, supporting the aesthetics and design, acknowledging the depth of thinking and reflecting the virtue of humanity.


is the cause of Zen design is particularly appreciated as a tool in transmitting the ideology. Objects with contemplation, aesthetics and craftsmanship compose the distinct soul, a remembrance of Zen mind. These Zen objects are rather different. From the appearances and design elements, they might categorize together with minimalistic and other aesthetics born and adapted in the West. The core of western minimalism is modernism, a tribute to reflect the beauty of industrial design. From material, shape to color, western minimalism is minimizing the content to serve the innovation in technology for the sake of aesthetics itself. On the other hand, the minimalistic formation of Zen is the expres-sion of the concept, considering merging nature with the human in the first place, emphasizing on



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I-iv Benefits of Zen Business

To find the exact model of business and companies that apply Zen from the roots was unfeasible; however there are some similar approaches support the beneficial potentiality of Zen business. One similar case was Firms of Endearments.

Firms of Endearments (FoEs) describe the type of companies that manage to bond a strategic align-ment with all its stakeholders to benefit their interests and create lovable relation. The affection of joy, authenticity, passionate, soulfulness and other is the key words for the company, by this building an emotional relationship with the consumers. The company equally values all types of stakeholders’ interests in order to prosper together. Companies such as IKEA, Toyota, Patagonia, New Balance and many more are intended to exceed stakeholders’ requirements and expectations and generate loyalty and fondness to the brand. (Sisodia et al., 2007)

Surprisingly FoEs have outstanding financial performance compare with other companies in the market. “(FoEs) outperformed the S&P 500 by significant margins, over 10-, 5-, and 3-year time horizons. In fact, the public FoEs returned 1,184 percent for investors over the 10 years ending June 30, 2006, compared to 122 percent for the S&P 500; that’s more than a 9-to-1 ratio! Over five years, the ratio is even higher, because the FoEs returned 132 percent, while the S&P 500 only gained 13 percent. Over three years, FoEs returned 74 percent versus 38 percent for the S&P 500.” (Sisodia et al., 2007, p.16)

suggests regardless their position, job titles, social status, relationship and other criteria; whether it is a B2B or B2C company, eventually the conver-sation is between humankind. They will face the same problems through life, urging for the same needs and looking for emotional support from the community they are around. This raise the same question to all people, which Zen here is one common way for all to participate and even-tually achieve the realm and find the answers for the questions from the heart. As Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of Needs, individuals have five levels of needs that ranked at the top is the fulfillment of self-actualisation. Higher the need is rank the harder to achieve. The quest of searching the meaning of life is to find the balance between inner and outer self, define the essence of being. This is also the path for a company to find its business solution, and the help from ancient dis-ciplines such as Zen is more likely to understand and address the problem from a different pros-pect, adding insights and value to the foundation of the business.

A circle of life - Business shares the exact stage of the life cycle as human being: establishment, growth, maturity and death (reborn, perhaps). Every action follows a reaction, straight path will have a turn, border will be crossed, result will be changed, but what will maintain unchanged of all time is the fact of the beginning and the end. There are instances where a business realized the difficulties in operating and start switching the direction and blame the consequence on custo-dianship, governance and delivery. Always exam-ine the business and restraint the process, even so when there come the factors beyond control,

I-iii Purpose of Having Zen in Business

As explained in the early chapter, Zen is the approach to the enlightenment that existed in everyday life. As human beings there are ques-tions that cannot be solve with knowledge and experience but all required is to examine the mind and soul in order to achieve eternal peace. This theoretical problem might not occur direct-ly in one’s living, but it has crucial influence on one’s behavior and attitudes towards life. Zen helps people to dispose a sense that their life has meaning. It helps giving more orientation, con-ciliation in times to recover, give people equa-nimity as they encounter the turbulence of life.

Myra Stark, the former Senior Vice President of international advertising company Saatchi & Saatchi phrased the following in the article ‘The State of the U.S. Consumer 2002’: “It’s as though the consumer is asking, “What really matters? What do I really care about? ” That’s what’s be-hind “reprioritization” and “resurgent patriot-ism. ” and the “reaffirmation of family, home and community,” as well as the need for balance in work and home lives. In the face of threats to our safety, our way of life and our economic stability, Americans have pulled back from many of the things that seemed to matter in the ‘90s - materialism, career, the celebrity culture, the affluent attitude - and are rethinking how they want to live and work. Daniel Pink, author of Free Agent Nation, calls this new seriousness “the flight to meaning.” “In turbulent times,” he says, “people get serious about finding meaning.” (Sisodia et al., 2007, p.3)

Doen’t matter the typology of business, it is al-ways human beings behind every operation. This



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One fact that is particularly interested is FoE’s financial result of the past five years was more sig-nificant in proving the hypothesis positively than the scale of the past ten years. The reason of this outcome is because it was taken during the global economic crisis since the year 2008, which many markets are still recovering from the recession at this day. However, the performance of FoEs was much less damaged compare with their competitors because of the emotional investments from the loyalty customers. This proves the maintenance of emotional relationship that FoEs are conducting provides a stronger connection with the customers, which is more likely to help the company to sur-vive market downturns. (Sisodia et al., 2007)

It is inspirational that without an actuarial effort to generate maximum profits and be generous to all, FoE’s stakeholders still deliver unexpected returns to investors. Although, Zen business tends to communicate in a different way: when FoEs are all about building emotional costumer relation-ships, investing time and money in creating unique experiences to differentiate them from ordinary companies and products in the market, Zen business is not even aiming for this kind of emotional building. As for Zen, the emotions should be detached to achieve enlightenment. Zen business will be considered as the mentor, the guide in the business and in its market sector; clients build a superior conversation with the company on intuition, conceptualization and truth. It is a unique methodology differenciated with FoEs, but they approaching to the same direction in combining stakeholders into one unit and achieving the best result by taking all of the stakeholders into account. This is why the financial result of FoEs might be very likely similar to what Zen business will perform, but this is only an estimation that gives a general view of the actual benefits of Zen business in terms of numbers.

the best solution might be ‘flow with the water and see where it leads’. Always strive for the best effort, respect the consumers and treat them as the first and last clients, embrace what comes and goes as it was all supposed to be.

As a member of the company, one may think the future goal is to achieve the mid-year bonus or millions of revenue, despite that there is a quality easier said than done - to intentionally do the right thing. With a healthy motivation and belief in hope, it helps to achieve spiritual freedom, emo-tional comfort and probable financial success.

A contest with oneself - Zen teaching states that the only enemy who one ever has to surpass is one-self. The master will guide the practiser on the way but it is solely depending on the practiser to find his/her own path and find the truth in one’s heart. (Steenberg, 2013) In business, there are occasions when the company pays excessive attention to its competitors, which are less rel-ative in brand development. Let the brand and the product speaks for itself; when it is truly in the best for clients, there will be nothing as com-petitive.

A role of responsibility - Every Zen action starts from a sense of responsibility. The relation with nature and greater self is always in the mind of a Zen practiser. The self-awareness that is im-plied in realizing the duty to another is the result of self-consciousness and action of big love. In realizing that one has responsibility to others, it cast off the pain that may be experiencing under certain incident, instead it encourages one to live through the troublesome. In business the same

sense of responsibility is applied from internally to externally. At any time, the decision is made not only for oneself, not for the maximum prof-it and the shareholders of the company, but for the greater good of stakeholders, the community and the society. It is the liability not only under this moment but also for the future generation, for what came before and what will happen next; company has the social responsibility; being the role model of the community in doing some-thing ethical and beneficial for each and every one. (Steenberg, 2013)

A sense of ritual - Though it is not strictly compul-sory to practice Zen meditation every single day, it is the continuous practice and training support the achievement in realization and attain perfec-tion for majority of the Zen masters. To always keep the Zen doctrine in mind and working to-wards the realm, the process invokes a sense of ritual, a slow yet steady incremental progress. Zen calligraphy is all about perfection: when the painter starts to create the work, every single details is the transformation of his attitude and methodology of Zen intuitions, which required years of training that one day he will be able to create the perfect Zen art at once, like a worrier’s strike on the battle field. The search for perfec-tion and contemplation should always be treated seriously; one must always seek to improve every detail of the business aiming for progressive re-alization of goals. With this precise attitude, one will be ready to perform the best learning from the past preparations. (Steenberg, 2013)


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I-v Zen and the West

The opening of the Japanese market in the Meiji period coincided with the stim-ulated western study on Buddhism in Asia. When there was a strong curious for knowledge of the East, while Asian countries wanted advanced science from the West, it was the golden age for scholars from both sides of the world to contrib-ute on Zen research. From Alan Watts, Daisetsu Suzuki to Shin’ichi Hisamatsu, they were the pioneers to explore the myth of meditation and Zen enlightenment on an international scale. (Dumoulin, 2005b)

However, until now there is still one common question been asked constantly, is about the cultural differences and the question that if western people can truly understand Zen. One interested conversation between Hisamatsu and Suzuki at Harvard University was recorded:

Hisamatsu(H): Among the many people you’ve met or heard of (in the West) is there anyone who you think has some understanding of Zen?Suzuki(S): No one. Not yet anyway.H: I see. Not yet. Well then, is there at least someone you have hope for? (Laughter)S: No. Not even that.H: So, of the many people (in the West) who have written about Zen there aren’t any who understand it?S: That’s right.H: Well, is there at least some book written (by a Westerner) which is at least fairly accurate?S: No. Not to my knowledge.

The conversation was taken in 1958 (FAS Society Journal Spring 1986 p.19-23, cited in Loy, 2005); after looking to the whole conversation it is understandable that Suzuki was trying to explain that the naturalisation of Zen on abroad would be time consuming. As Suzuki’s teaching, Zen experience is the origin of all re-ligion, meaning eventually people regardless where he/she came from and his/her religion will understand Zen. Early Japanese Zen scholars tend to carry this nihonjinron attitude that only Japan (the East) has the ability to understand the intellectual, spiritual and artistic concept of Zen, though this truth is universal (Loy, 1995). It is true that the oriental interpretation is considerably rationalistic and subject-object dualism that is different from the Westerners, but there are cases of similarities of western cultures shares deep bonds with Zen from the East.

Dr. H. McCarthy (1951) explained Goethe’s philosophical understanding in the spirit of Zen as without a coherent ideology or philosophy but reflects to the liv-ing nature itself. ‘Nature…is to rich, too varied, too diversified, too moving, too immediate, too full and too empty to lend itself to the formal requirements o any system of thought’ (p.25); words such as nature, life and reality have enrich and


complete meaning that can not be simply denote by philosophical in-telligence. Note that Goethe studied logic and metaphysics in his early study, but the negative attitudes towards logic and systematic philosophy appeared in numerous of his works. In his Von Deutscher Baukunst paper, he experi-enced the beauty of Strasbourg Cathe-dral after remov- ing the stereotype on the connota- tion ‘Gothic’ and suddenly exposed to the harmoni-ous combination of creative com-ponents, he was ‘able to taste and enjoy., but in no way to understand and explain...how broken it is, and yet how eternal...’ (Quoted by Bosa-nquet, 1904, p.307- 308, cited in McCa-rthy, 1951). Goethe’s enjoyment under Cathedral’s ritual glory and his poetic description is the uni- ty of metaphysics and the view of Zen; by ob- serving the object without prejudice and stereotype, em- brace the original beauty of the object and eventually appreci- ate the naked truth.

If Zen is the path of living itself then it is not to be conceptualized, which no single philosophy or ideology is completed enough to analogize Zen. It is not in any existent category, not theory nor religion (indeed Zen will be incomplete without influences of Buddhism, but these two are not to be considered as the same). In fact, more than one keywords of Zen meditation has difficulties to find equivalent expression in western languages because the meaning it represents never existed in western languages. Though Zen should not be conceptualized, nevertheless the indication of experience is the only way to communicate with Zen, as we are human beings and without any tools for expression, Zen will no longer survive after thousand years (D. Suzuki, 1951). What was unique about Japanese Zen is it managed to consolidate into Japanese tradition and culture, become the fundamental cognition and characteristic of Japan. Japanese Zen was exported to the West; thanks to Japanese Zen masters and western scholars continuous contributions on the topic and the expression of Zen aesthetics by Japanese designers on the international stage, Japanese Zen is blooming not only in the East but also appreciated by western audiences. It might take time and ef-fort to educate audiences from different cultural background to truly understand and enjoy Zen, but undoubtedly it is a universal language and could be applied into the humanities.


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A specific case of a business’ development and effectiveness after evolved into Zen business might not be able to find at this moment, however there are some cases of enterprises and similar approaches bonding a philosophical idea tightly with the core value of the brand and gradually infiltrating into the complete circle of business management.

II-i Apple Case

In the April edition of Harvard Business Review, Walter Isaacson (2012) expressed his perception on Steve Jobs, what is different from a Jobs’ phenomenon and other innovators’ creation, especially the relation with Zen Buddhism and how it influenced Jobs from design to management.

From Isaacson’s (2012) observation, the reason of Jobs’ success is a combination of his personality and a rare match of Zen characteristics. Jobs had distinct market sense, the ability to focus on one target result the minimalistic philosophy: “He relentlessly filtered out what he considered distrac-tions…Jobs’s Zen-like ability to focus was accompanied by the related instinct to simplify things by zeroing in on their essence and eliminating unnecessary components….Jobs aimed for the simplicity that comes from conquering, rather than merely ignoring complexity… Instead of relying on market research, he honed his version of empathy—an intimate intuition about the desires of his customers. He developed his appreciation for intuition—feelings that are based on accumulated experiential wisdom—while he was studying Buddhism in India as a college dropout.”

Jobs was also excessively in charge of every single aspects connected with the brand, which was un-common to find in western companies. Isaacson (2012) writes, “Part of Jobs’s compulsion to take responsibility for what he called ‘the whole widget’ stemmed from his personality, which was very controlling. But it was also driven by his passion for perfection.” Influenced by Japanese Zen culture, many executive managers in Japan-based companies are responsible for company’s major mistakes conducted by subordinate. The chief executive officer should have never located personnel without the ability to complete his/her job on the position. It is the characteristic of high responsibility in unified the company and received absolute loyalty from the staffs. (Taki et al., 2012)

Some people have doubts in the influence of Zen within Jobs since his high-strung temper was not the exact imagination of how a Zen practiser should behave, but the fact that seeing the leadership and performance could definitely find a path of Zen. In his famous speech at Stanford University in 2005, he narrated death as the best invention of living, because death as the alternant of old and new,


it clears the way of the past and gives the path to the living. He further encourag-es everyone that time is limited so do not live for others; don’t let other people’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. The most important is the courage to follow the heart and intuition. (stanford.edu, 2005) ‘ Follows one’s heart’ is embodied in the essence of Zen; Jobs set an example especially when his career was in the downturn. The story of Jobs and Apple was very much like the saying from Ch’ing-yüan Wei-hsin, “Before a man studies Zen, to him mountains are mountains and waters are waters; after he gets an insight into the truth of Zen through the instruction of a good master, mountains to him are not mountains and waters are not waters; but after this when he really attains to the abode of rest, mountains are once more mountains and waters are waters.” (Watts, 1989, p.126) When one is facing the guise and complication, it was difficult to observe the truth, whereas in the end one will realize after the journey of searching, the truth is right in front. What was always with Jobs was his vision and passion with Apple; with his individualism he abandoned the cliché and kept the essence, transfer the ideology of Zen into the concept and the product.


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II-ii MUJI Case

MUJI is a irreplaceable phenomenon in Japan: Without logo, advertising, testimonials and rich color and style, MUJI’s performance was soar-ing: from the year 2010 to 2012, the global net sales rose from 170 Billion Japanese Yen to the new record in the history at 188 Billion Yen; the operating profit grew from 14 Billion to 18 Bil-lion Yen, accounted for 8.2% in 2010 to 9.8% in 2012. According to 2013’s Q1 data, its operating profit ratio has reached 10.4%. (Huang and Yue, 2013)

Doesn’t necessary for MUJI to always has great performance through its history. From 1990 to 1999, the turnover of MUJI rose from 25 billion Yen to 106 billion; operating profit uplifted from 0.1 billion to 13 billion Yen. The magic didn’t last long. Because of excessive pursuit on sales performance, ignoring the principle of design, over-accelerating store expansion, competing with other parity-price rivals, MUJI had 3.9 bil-lion losses in the year 2001. The company was

placed on the verge of bankruptcy; the second president had resigned. (Huang and Yue, 2013)

Subsequently, third president Tadamitsu Matsui conducted up to three years of reformation to pull the company back on track. Matsui con-centrated on the management whereas Masaa-ki Kanai was responsible for sales and product development. The two visited all MUJI stores in Japan and had discussions directly with each single store managers. After a comprehensive first-hand research of one year, the managers understood all the problems and the internal ref-ormation was began. The core methodology was returned to offer high quality standard commod-ities; Matsui invited designer Kenya Hara as the artistic director of MUJI to improve the product design from concept and return to the ‘easy to use’ origin. (Huang and Yue, 2013)

In 2001, MUJI began to communicate with con-sumers on the Internet, shared marketing plan

and collected opinions from netizens in order to have the insight into the basic characteristics of the ideal products in costumers’ mind. Develop-ers would collate consumers’ suggestions, picked the best plans and raised a vote; the proposal with the highest vote would make into samples. After setting a reasonable price, MUJI started to accept orders. Once the numbers reached the minimum production amount, the factory activated commercial manufacture. One of the most successful cases was the sandbag shape lazy couch the brand launched in 2002, sold 80,000 pieces with 1 billion Yen gross sales in a month. (Huang and Yue, 2013)

Other than collecting inspiration directly from consumers through the Internet, MUJI has many more methods to communicate with their targets for product research. In 2003, a development plan called ‘Observation’ was implemented: the R&D team will visit the consumer’s residential, observe his/her daily life and photograph the ob-

jects and corners of the space. These researches will later deeply analysed and discussed in order to excavate the potential consumers demand. For example, developers found round bottle is diffi-cult to fit in the corner of bathroom walls; the brand accordingly introduced the squared shape bottle to reduce space. (Huang and Yue, 2013)

In order to pursuit both utility and aesthetic in design the MUJI Laboratory for Living was es-tablished. Consumers could send comments and suggestions from product development, sample trial to in-store experiences. These advices or complaints were sent directly to Kanai’s personal mailbox. What customers don’t know is Kanai reads all the feedbacks, takes advices from the useful comments and insures the weaknesses needed to be improved. (Huang and Yue, 2013)

The pursuit of nature and convenience of prod-ucts suggests the development process of MUJI is rather offbeat. Unlike other retail chains that


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only cooperate with manufacturers in the design process, MUJI’s designers are involved from planning, designing, production to distribution stage. Even after the design plan is proven, the product is still under stringent monitor. An ex-ternal advisory committee form by Japan’s top designers will examine whether the product is strictly conformed to the ‘MUJI concept’. In-dex including not blindly following the fashion trend to avoid being quickly ‘out-of-date’, and the product must be compatible with and able to enhance the brand image. Kanai believes and emphases on control the fads: excessive con-sumption can lead to the gradually disappear-ance of many simple yet useful objects. Finally, the product will be ready to sell once it earns committee’s recognition. As the ‘opposite side’ of fashion, the pursuit of MUJI is simple, dura-ble with an appropriate price, when design and material are serving for the use of product and living quality in general. By this MUJI balanced the design and marketing aspects in its products. (Huang and Yue, 2013)

Other than product development, Kanai also raises attention to the aesthetics of the store dis-play, realizing that only rely on the simple practi-cal design and the pursuit of utility is inadequate to allure the window shoppers to step into the shop and take out their wallets. Once the prod-ucts are on the shelves, the MUJI without logo, pattern, color and advertising must attract and conquer the consumers by sophisticated mer-chandising system. A standard display not only

requires neat yet visually attractive elements but also need to consider consumers shopping hab-its. Such as the pen cap in stationary sector must facing the same direction; hanging towels on the upper deck must keep in the same horizontal

level measuring by staffs with cardboards. The display of folded clothes requires the top shirt’s collar on each pile of clothes always facing out-ward to the aisle, since visual merchandising di-rector (VMD) discovered the costumers are of-ten paying attentions to the style of collar. In this way, customers could easily find out the style of collars on each levels of shelves without bending or looking through the pile. (Peng et al., 2007)

For MUJI to launch a new store and set the dis-play takes about one to three weeks. Collaborate with the R&D department, the latter will provide essential consumer behaviors report to VMD in-cluding surrounding district, costumer flows, re-tail sales in the sector, the distance from major station to the store, leasing percentage, age/sex ratio in the region etc. VMD then determined the categories and numbers of products located in different sections depending upon these de-tails. For example, if the majority client group is women, VMD will place skin care products and womenswear in front of the store entrance; if the store is near by children entertainment fa-cilities then the display of stationery products will be most visible compare to other products. (Peng et al., 2007)


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PHILOSOPHY(Long-term thinking)

THE TOYOTA WAY(Liker, 2004)

PROCESS(Eliminate waste)

PEOPLE AND PARTNERS(Respect, challenge, and grow them)

PROBLEM SOLVING(Continuous improvement and learning)

accepted globally. Today, Toyota’s headquarter in Japan welcomes tens of thousands of senior corporate managers to visit; these visitors brought the management system back to their

own countries without effective results as intended. Some people believed that the success of Toyota Way is rooted in its unique cultural factors, but the case of additonal Japa-

nese automobile companies, NISSAN and Honda fail to replicate Toyota’s success, meanwhile Toyota was able to present its unique management model outside Ja-

pan. From this point of view, Toyota Way is difficult for enterprises from other countries to adapt, not because of its unique Japanese cultural background,

but the fact that it is easy to replicate what can be seen on the production line but complicated to extend the effect from manufacture to man-

agement. Visitors with access to the head quarter would have a clear vision on Toyota Way’s management on external subjects as activity,

transportation and production flow, which are relatively rigidly fixed. More importantly is behind these simple activities and

processes contain great flexibility and adaptability of ideas from Toyota Corporation. Concepts such as “genchi gen-

butsu” (fixing problems on the front line) and “kaizen” (continual improvement base on the sense of cri-

sis) requires thorough explanation that suggested Toyota employees have same understanding

and pursuit of the company’s interest. These unstable yet flexible management features

hold the key for Toyota’s remarkable performance through decades. When

the foreign quarter and its recruit-ment of other cultures have dif-

ficulties on understanding the cultural language and confu-

sion on Toyota Way, com-pany provides training

institutes to educate and promote the

concept to its overseas em-

p l o y e e s . (Fackler,


II-iii The Toyota Way

According to Dr. Jeffrey Liker (2003), the key success for Toyota Motor Corporation is the famed Toyota produc-tion and management system overseeing its quarters across the world. Toyota Way is a unique set of values and producing conducts, which existed from the very beginning of the company’s foundation. To measure and monitor Toyota’s international operations, the 14 principles of Toyota Way were first conducted in 2001, in order to tran-scend the diverse languages and cultures of Toyota employees and to communicate its philosophy internally. (Toyota Motor Corporation Annual Report, 2003)

The base of Toyota Way pyramid is the long-term philosophy, to have a philosophical sense of purpose that super-sedes any short-term decision-making. Work, grow, and align the whole organization toward a common purpose that is bigger than making money. To understand ones’ position in the history of the company, as a manager or a manufacturer, endeavor to the best interest of both company and oneself. It is a mandatory cultural value planted in every single Toyota’s employees’ heart; to act with self-reliance and trust ones own abilities and the strength of the team. Accept responsibility for the conduct, in the meantime maintains and improves the skills, which enable to produce and generate value for costumers, economy and society. (rasmusson.wordpress.com, 2008)

In an interview with Jim Press, the Executive Vice President and C.O.O. of Toyota Sales North America, he de-clared: “The purpose of the money we make is not for us as a company to gain, and it’s not for us as associates to see our stock portfolio grow or anything like that. The purpose is so we can reinvest in the future, so we can continue to do this. That’s the purpose of our investment. And to help society and to help the community, and to contribute back to the community that we’re fortunate enough to do business in.” (rasmusson.wordpress.com, 2008)

The mission statements of Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America quarter was fascinated compare with the general statements from other automobile companies:

As an American company, contribute to the economic growth of the community and the United States.As an independent company, contribute to the stability and well-being of team members.As a Toyota group company, contribute to the overall growth of Toyota by adding value to our customers.(rasmusson.wordpress.com, 2008)

In other words, Toyota was contributed to the external stakeholders as well as the internal stakeholders in the coun-try of its location and to the overall growth of Toyota enterprise. The shareholder value, quality products and the pursuit of excellence are all key services in support of the mission. It’s all serving around the philosophical purpose that to enhance the growth of the society and achievement of self-actualization.

The philosophical mission is the foundation of all the other principles, the core for all other 13 principles build upon. When a Toyota quarter is conducting the framework it understands what is behind the actions. Toyota Way has been driven deeply into the psyche of employees at all levels that it has morphed from a strategy into a funda-mental element of the company’s culture. (Heskett, 2012)

Nowadays, countable large enterprises developed their own management system to implement the benchmark after learning from Toyota Way; GE Corp, Ford Motor Co., Chrysler and other world-class companies have joined this rank. However, surprisingly rare for them to succeed, despite the fact that Toyota Way has been recognised and


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II-iv Communication: MUJI Product Fitness 80 Exhibition and Lovemarks

The ancient saying “Eat in measure and defy the doctor” means eat reasonably or ended dining before the feeling of absolute fullness is good for the health. It is the traditional teaching of Japanese culture, the humble and moderate life-style and the respect of natural resources. The extensive meaning of the teaching hints that by exercising a little self-restraint, reduce the desire from 100% to 80% rather than allowing uncon-trollable excessive needs and wants to no limits, will create a balanced, cheerful and much easily achievable healthy life.

The impact of the Great East Japan earthquake in March 2011 had enormous influence on na-tive Japanese life. It was a harsh reminder on ap-preciating the beauty of living that is granted and privileged for humanity. The increasing concern about the unlimited and reckless consumption of goods ad materials, as well as false promotion that will lead to encouraging these actions has been growing; the society is in danger of con-suming itself, and it is everybody’s responsibility, as a member of the living society, to restore the excessive human desire back to the sustainable balance for future generations.

Out of this concern, MUJI organized the Fitness 80 Exhibition to remind people the importance of self-control in design, and the responsibility of an influential brand on what could be offered to the consumers. Under Zen impact, MUJI has always been dedicated to the pursuit to adequacy, designing products that are truly fitted for its pur-pose. MUJI’s vision and prospect in monozuku-ri (craftsmanship) was serving not only for the aesthetic design aspects but also the concern of nature and harmony. The brand does not aim to make only adequate product with minimalistic details, but products imbued with craftsmanship and the spirit of the craftsman and the

material of the product, the unity of men and objects. The brand continuously exercise self-re-straint in the design and production process of its products; the questions always bears in every developers’ mind: whether the product cost ex-cessive materials, if it is over-packaged or the size and weight could be reduced by any chance, are there any room for improvements between ordering, manufacturing and transportation that could make an environmentally conscious value chain. The product is the result of reducing to its essentials but with practice and aesthetics that it becomes natural and enjoyable. (muji.net, 2012)

The exhibition is not based on the idea of ‘cre-ating a line of environmentally conscious prod-ucts with minimalistic aesthetics’, but a result of in depth consideration and responsibility for the human kind and the greater society. The de-notation of this exhibition is a combination of broad topics from historical event, social impact, humanity and together with the aspects that al-ready existed in MUJI: Zen, respect and harmo-ny, natural balance and unity, aesthetics and util-ity. These complex mixtures of concepts are the reasons for this exhibition: from here the visitors will have a baptism of the richness social cultural background of the brand, later understand the connotations appeared on the products.

MUJI communicates the idea of environmental-ly friendly and sustainability within its products, together with the trademark of craftsmanship and design aesthetics, to share the path for great-er benefit of the Mother Earth and the socie-ty. The exhibition took places in eight concept stores of MUJI and design museums across the world, together with some iconic designers’ cre-ation for the brand, to underline the beauty of less is more.


The global advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi’s CEO Keven Roberts wrote about the marketing concept of Lovemarks in the book under the same title. Although the book itself was occa-sionally criticized for its repeating contents and lack of scientific proof in the proficiency of mar-keting theory, the Lovemarks concept first pub-lished in 2004 gained a majority support from the marketers in the industry, especially the com-munication oriented marketers. As the sub-title of the book, what these communicators believed that the future of the brands will be based on the emotional affection the consumers attached to the brand. Roberts (2004) considers that love is the future trend of brand development, “What builds loyalty that goes beyond reason? What makes a truly great love stands out?” (p.37) is all depending on love and other positive affection the consumers investing into the brand.

According to Roberts (2004), the three key in-gredients to build a Lovemark are: mystery, sen-suality and intimacy. The brand must conduct a remarkable story, with a coherent value from the beginning to the end, be inspirited and create resonance with the stakeholders. The communi-cating process should come from all directions as in the five senses: sound, sight, smell, touch and taste, to activate consumers’ emotional trig-ger. Last but not the least will be creating an in-timate relation between the brand and the con-sumers, encourage them to invest empathy and passion into the brand and eventually make a strong commitment that will finally result in the purchase action with single reason of love. The two scales Roberts used to evaluate Lovemarks are respect and love. It indicates mere commod-ities do not acquire love or respect. When the brand only has love but not respect, it turns into fads and the love is not prominent and constant. Brands attract respect but unlikely to have love.

At last, Lovemarks command both respect and love. Kevin Duncan (2010) summarize the con-cept in “Creating loyalty beyond reason requires emotional connections that generate the highest level of love and respect for the brand.” (p.71)

The tern ‘loyalty beyond reason’ could be a dou-ble-blades sword especially when the concept is linked with emotional attachment; when love and respect as the secondary emotion that as Roberts described, the core of Lovemarks, it cannot be avoid that the communication of the brand is entirely base on the image and impression the consumers have with the brand, meaning if the feeling of love and respect could appear, other not-so-positive emotions such as disappoint-ment, dishonestly even anger and hatred could also be the emotion label the consumers related with the brand. Once the consumer is dissat-isfied with the so-call ‘love affection’ with the brand, previous experience and purchase based on their beyond-reason loyalty will become false marketing even fraud, once the consumers real-ized it is merely a marketing strategy. The prob-lem with investing grand amount of emotional attachments as it could bring a lot of trust and love into your brand, however once the relation-ship is broken, the damage could be vital. For-mer examples would be dishonest campaign, se-cretly using child labors in developing countries, or found out a beloved designer is racist and violates a religion publicly. This certainly mean-ing the brand should maintain the same ethnical principles from words to actions, but also sug-gests it is clearly not enough to solely rely on emotional relationship management.

Doesn’t mean the entire concept of Lovemarks is unreliable. In fact, emotion approaches are un-doubtedly important in the communication with consumers. Respect, as important as the feelings

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Japanese traditional gold lacquering method was used to repair

damaged ceramics and porcelain


Multiple function lids fits five different sized pans, save kitchen

space at a premium



Cut the uneccessary length, MUJI asks questions about the

most trivial details


Consume the least possible materials, concentrate on the

purity of the contents


of love, constitutes one of the essential characteristics of Zen. The respect in Zen does not only represent trust and believe that the consumers are willing to pay on the brand, but a much broader value. It is equanimity and tolerance goes both directions, from the consumers to the brand and backward. From Roberts standard one may say MUJI is a Lovemark, but to understand the attachments MUJI’s consumers have for the brand is a result of philosophical cerebration, from the purpose of bringing a better living condition and sustainable environ-ment to the public, a consideration beyond brand and its products. Although MUJI’s success in terms of sales figures is geographically rely on Japan and Asia market, the communication approach such as Fitness 80 exhibition is a try-out to communicate the vision globally. It might be complicated for viewers without Zen knowledge to understand the entire concept, but at least the initial phase of realizing formation of design is serving for the concept is a promising start.

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Shin’ichi Hisamatsu’s seven aesthetics in the tea ceremony (Dumoulin, 2005b) are the fundamental prin-ciples for Zen aesthetics. It applies from the tea ceremony to Zen designs and shapes the view of Zen arts. Base on this framework, here lists the seven principles of Zen business develops from the seven aesthetics - doesn’t matter the guideline is for creativity or business, in the end they both inharit the spirit of Zen.


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Seven Principles of Zen Business

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Have a natural and harmonic resonance. Remember the brand has no differences com-pare with its stakeholders; it ceases to be a company or a label but fleshes with breath and thoughts. Create by human beings and communicate with human beings, Zen business suggests abandoning the sell-purchase relationship that no longer offering a product but welcoming people to be a part of the brand, sharing the value of Zen by owning a product from the label. It is an invitation to friends and family to participate in a magical experience in the store, recognize the brand as guidance, eventually become a member of the Zen world.

Shizen also refers to the harmonious connection between the natural environment and the society. Zen Business is grateful for the ample resources the mother Earth is offering, therefore committing to protect and maintain the environmental system. Zen business believes behind each design there is a ‘soul’, combines the essence of nature, aesthetics and craftsmanship, which define each product distinct from others. The senses of Wa (harmony) and Kei (respect) are the foundation of Zen aesthetics, as well as the quality of Zen business.


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YugenBear in mind that the aspect of design and fashion is always serving for the concept of Zen in order to be a Zen business. The profound and sophisticated wisdom inside Zen is the nucleus of the brand; in-side every operation of the company, from design to manufacture and retailing, Zen mind should present in every stage of the business model. Leading audi-ences observes behind the design elements, touches and integrates with the Zen concept within.


It will be relatively straightforward to communicate Zen concept base on the existed Zen aesthetics or residents’ general understanding on Zen, especially if geographical ar-eas divide the market. When consumers from one location with clear understanding of Zen and clients from a different market do not have any clue on the meditative concept, it definitely requires more effort and patience in explaining the value to the new market. One the other hand, it is much simpler to educate a clear mind to the correct understanding of Zen, because it has not been contaminated by possible misleading stories. Be bold to create the brand’s own Zen aesthetics. Release oneself from habits and formula. To al-ways observe the world with a beginner’s mind, enjoy the slightly piece of joyfulness and satisfaction in life. Remem-ber, Zen is everywhere.

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SeijakuRemain still and solitude. Competition and stress are not avoidable in reality, therefore to concur one’s fear, anxiety and eagerness is critical in Zen business. As a role model for its stakeholders, the business should be able to manage the adverse forces. Wealth and affection may come and goes; what only belongs to the man is his/her shoshin (initial intention) and one must hold on to that origi-nal intention to be awake in the chaotic world. (S. Suzuki, 1970) Be calm, be still; focus on one and solitary one thought, hold on to the thought and be with it.

KansoDa Vinci said: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” (goodreads.com) The differences of eastern and western minimalism have been discussed, but the appreciation of simplicity is surely confirmed in both culture. To understand and enlighten in a complicated meditative-practice as Zen could only encounter with oneself and it is rather difficult to comprehend by any format of medium. Which suggests eliminating the clutter, leaving rooms of imagination during communication, for the con-sumers to design their own comprehension and actually contemplate the idea. In this way bond the relation with intellect and sense, add solidness and deepness to the conversation.

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Shibumi Fukinsei

Imperfection is a natural part of existence, a path to perfection; therefore there is no need to be afraid of making mistakes and start over. In fact, the enso (Zen circle) is often illustrated as an incomplete circle, symbolized imperfection is a configuration of perfection. In the world of nature, there is many imperfect yet perfectly balanced artistry, together completed a harmonic universe.

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These seven principles supporting one other together compose a discrete business value with strong heritage from Zen. Applying the seven principles into management and operation requires profound understanding on Zen and conduct through all stages of a business operation. From the executive board to management team and the employees who contact with consumers directly, the ideology of Zen is inherited and presented from every aspect.

III-ii Limitation

The outcome of seven principles of Zen business is a guideline for fashion companies to take the possibility of developing a new concept of business based on the Zen model, propose a framework with insightful cognition and loyal social-cultural responsibility. However, it is not possible to sug-gest specific tactics in business model due to lack of materials and proof in numbers on the finan-cial adaption before and after a brand reform into Zen business. Intangible assets measurement was considered but determined to be impractical because Zen does not match with any intangible assets category. One could only estimate the value of Zen business base on the analysis of business cases mentioned in the previous chapters two and the accomplishment done by Firms of Endearments. Nevertheless the importance of having a profound comprehension as the core value of the brand is certainly indispensable for today’s fashion business.


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There is an old Chinese saying: when peace is within ones heart, it is auspicious. The pursuit of ul-timate happiness and peace is the nature of mankind, so as the search for beauty. What make Zen exclusively precious is the broad topics it is able to arrange and applied on. There is no limitation on the concept of Zen. There is hardly any other religion, culture, theory or philosophy that could be translated into accessible content and apply to day-to-day living. It is true that these simplify re-sponses of Zen are based on a complex meditative state that only the very few masters would be able to understand completely, but it doesn’t mean it is unreachable for commoners from any religious culture background.

The purpose of merging Zen value into business is to condense business value, contribute to the society and future generation by a business with humanity. By all means, a company should not only be a money generator for the shareholders but a role model and a ‘meditation room’ for its consum-ers and stakeholders at large, to place their benefits in the first place, enhance their quality of living. There are other approaches also aiming at this value, though one believes that a business could only succeed in achieving this goal by having a profound understanding and practices in conceptual wis-dom such as Zen.

Numerous business cases were discussed in the paper, which one might recognize Japanese enter-prises were the majority. This is due to the rooted influence of Zen culture in the past half century on the land of Japan; no other religion or culture is so deeply bonded with the national social culture. However, this does not suggest Zen could only apply in Japan and Asia. Consumers approach Zen idea not only when they found out about the products but also attracted by the atmosphere around it. Despite the geographical area of the market and which specific communication tools are imple-menting, Zen benefits the community and the humanity.

The relation of Zen, design and fashion is instinctive. No other system of art is accessible and well-comprehend as design; as a type of design, fashion has its authority in the modern society. Transmits through fashion business, Zen is able to deliver its teaching in contemporary formula, communicate with younger targets and help to shape a moral and healthful living prospect. Surround by this disordered world, may Zen find you the peace within your heart.


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