Posts Tagged ‘japan’

If you are over 21 & have had your first home away from home, you’ve spent entirely too much time (but arguably not that much money) in the maze-like monstrosity that is Ikea.  Now that it’s 2010, I invite you to try their Japanese fraternal twin: MUJI.

I had never even heard of MUJI until it came up at work as a place to buy cheap, anonymous (read: customizable) yet design-conscious office supplies.  My Italian mind thought it was spelled Muggi. Dumb.

You can get all sorts of weird random things in a really small space;  in other words, it doesn’t take 1 hour to get in & 1 hour to get out.  Seat cushions, build-your-own-pens (really awesome actually), underwear, wooden city skyline block sets, furniture, and picture frames all manage to coexist very peacefully.

case in point: harmonious coexistance

On their website, shopping is called “Playing” and each product shot, if you hover/sit with it for a while (stop scrolling!) starts to animate itself like that painting in the Witches with the girl feeding the ducks.* Or I suppose for you Harry Potterheads, like the portraits.

Unfortunately a quick scan of the clothing section did not turn up their fabulous bat-sleeve (I admit, I am obsessed with the silhouette) simple cotton shirts, perfect for spring in robin’s-egg heathery blue.

Here is their manifesto (yes, manifesto– in the 21st century, only brands have manifestos, and yes, Virginia, MUJI is in fact a brand),  entitled “The Future of Muji”:

MUJI is not a brand. MUJI does not make products of individuality or fashion, nor does MUJI reflect the popularity of its name in its prices.  MUJI creates products with a view toward global consumption of the future.  This means that we do not create products that lure customers into believing that “this is best” or “I must have this.” We would like our customers to feel the rational sense of satisfaction that comes not with “this is best,” but with “this is enough.”  “Best” becomes “enough.”

Wait, what?!  MUJI is telling us to settle for mediocrity?  Keep reading.

“There are degrees of ‘enough,’ however.  MUJI aims to raise the standard of ‘enough’ to the greatest extent possible.  ‘Best’ contains a faint amount of egoism and disharmony, but in ‘enough’ we sense restraint and compromise.  On the other hand, ‘enough’ might contain a sense of resignation and a slight amount of dissatisfaction.  So by raising the bar of what denotes ‘enough,’ we cast away that resignation and slight dissatisfaction; we create a new dimension of ‘enough’ to attain a clear and heart-felt ‘This is enough.’  That is MUJI’s vision.  To that end, MUJI continually revamps as many as 7,500 items as we deliver new MUJI quality.”

OK, whoever wrote this was clearly in some sweet spot that I have never been.  I want to like manifestos, it’s in my nature, but I’d give this manifesto a gold brown star (b.s.)  The photography on their page is pretty stunning, so the b.s.  could be upgraded to one of those red shiny ones.

So, MUJI… 10 points for small space with huge range of products, 15 points for breezy, adaptable minimalist design,  -15 for brand manifesto that claims MUJI is not a brand, 5 of those redeemed because at least they didn’t claim it was “a lifestyle”

Any of you frequent MUJI?  What do you buy there?


*If you got that reference, big gold star for you!


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