Originally Published September 9, 2008 on New2NYC.org
What New Yorker doesn’t like sleek, scaled down coolness? This is the city were the coolest of the cool create what’s cool. This means that all types gravitate towards the City That Never Sleeps to get their hands on a piece of the action. In particular, retail companies that have become big successes in their native countries (think H&M) come here to make their splash in the American market. A new store that’s now poised to breakout onto the American market is the Japanese retailer known MUJI. (www.muji.com)
With two locations here in New York - their first at 455 Broadway (Between Grand and Howard Streets) in Soho and a second, newly opened flagship store at 620 8th Avenue (40th St.) in Times Square – MUJI is setting it’s sights on conquering America. And with it’s unique branding and varied, extremely cool products, don’t expect it to be a secret for very long.
So, what does MUJI sell – if you are thinking loud, over the top Japanese pop culture schlock - you would be way off base. As they put it in their own words “MUJI products spring from a commitment to moderation in all things except quality – and from the confident awareness that modesty and discretion are, together, the better part of style.” So what exactly does MUJI sell? Well, everything, really – except food. Since 1980, they have designed all manner of product with an uncomplicated styling based on the sublime.
Start with MUJI’s take on the home office. They have designed a series of eco-friendly products geared towards the popularity of home offices. Their Ring Lever Arch Binders, for example, are made from 100% recycled materials and are available in natural or charcoal grey. They have a large assortment of storage products that are perfect for a home office. You’ll also find desk accessories, notebooks, pens, calculators and even “back to college” products – all with the MUJI design aesthetic.
MUJI doesn’t stop just at the home office, however. You’ll find products for every room in your house. For the kitchen, expect to find beautiful stemware and glasses (including an adorable heatproof cup and saucer), table linens and aprons, cutlery, dishware, and traditional Japanese products like chop sticks and porcelain tea pots.
For your bedroom, MUJI carries a nice assortment of linens, duvets, and shams in understated designs that relay their belief in moderation. This is not the store to find loud prints – instead, expect to find colors like beige, white, black or blue and white seersucker stripes. They also carry a collection of furniture for the bedroom, including chest of drawers, bed frames and side tables (among other things).
If you are looking for some new items for your closet for the Fall – well don’t worry. Not only do they have the storage that New Yorkers desperately need, but they also provide a terrific assortment of clothing for men and women. You can find everything from shoes, to underwear, to pants and sweaters, and outerwear. As with the other products at MUJI, you should expect an assortment of muted colors – which is perfect for your average New Yorker.
MUJI Soho (212-334-2002) is open Monday thru Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. MUJI Times Square (212-382-2300) is open Monday thru Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.