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The Muji difference

Blog post   •  Sep 16, 2015 12:50 SGT

On Fri 04 Sep, we were invited to attend Muji Paragon's reopening ceremony, and the concurrent opening of Muji Cafe and Meal, which is located within the Muji Paragon premises.  Together with the opening, Muji put up an exhibition in the Paragon atrium showcasing the recently re-launched storage furniture - steel unit shelves (SUS) and stacking shelves.  All guests were also invited to a full meal at the Muji cafe after the ceremony, complete with soup, mains with side dishes, a drink and dessert.   

As Muji fans. it was the perfect opportunity for us to learn about Muji's philosophy up close and personal, as well as meet the designers and key movers behind the Muji products and food concept.   It's one thing to use Muji's products, but to imbibe the rarified air of its almost-mystical design approach?  That's like being raptured and gone to Heaven. 

So what is it about Muji's approach that appeals to our sensibilities as professional organizers?  Well, everything that Muji does is centered around this concept that if our lives become beautiful, our society becomes better.  And that philosophy is exactly like ours too. 

However, their definition of beauty is not the same as the luxurious richness that permeates European design - a richness that is synonymous with material wealth - but it is a richness an ordinary object exudes as it ages in the right way.  There is an equal emphasis on what is NOT there, as much as what IS there.  This concept of the void, a shortage of SOMETHING - that it's as important as the substance of a thing that we can see, touch and feel - is central to the seeming lack of "bells and whistles" in their products.  And ironically, this void gives an item its "richness". 

Too philosophical huh?  You're right - but isn't that how Japanese design distinguishes itself?  

Anyway, we digress....so why do we love Muji products so much?  Let us count the ways: 

1.  They are meticulous in their material selection

Muji's products never made of some state-of-the-art-rare-compound-that-is-the-best-kept-secret-on-earth.  Instead, they're ordinary materials, just simply WELL-CHOSEN, but still are the ordinary kind.  The polypropylene drawers, for example, don't turn yellow, dry up or break into crumbly bits over time.  They just age, as is - what you see is what you're gonna get 3, 5, 10 years down the road.  

Their make-up?  The main ingredient is water - just pure, untainted natural water springing from some caves in the Iwate Prefecture.  Their clothing?  Made from linen from Flanders that becomes smoother and softer with each wash and wear.  Their food?  Made from simple local ingredients that are, in Muji's words, full of blessings from the sun, soil and water. 

2.  The products are designed to be simple in both function and form

"Just right" is Muji's mantra for product design.  "Just right" is good enough.  It is well enough to be simple and meeting the basic necessities - just like how a good meal doesn't leave you overstuffed.  The products is gentle, quiet and kind to the environment in which it is placed.  It doesn't shout out for attention like a piece de resistance, but rather prides itself in blending in.  

As professional organizers, we don't want any possession to be "in your face".  Whatever your lifestyle or your likes and dislikes, what you have should quietly support that, like a silent, supportive spouse, or well, a good bra.  So Muji's products fit right in, right down to the dimensions.  Their colorless, bland, blend-with-the-wall design is precisely their strength. 

3.  They streamline their production processes so the products are reasonably priced

OK, some people might dispute this, but over the last year, Muji has made concerted efforts to make their Singapore prices more in line with the Japanese ones.  And yes, they are no IKEA, but they are not your typical European-Scandinavian-cost-an-arm-and-a-leg brand either.  While we'd label other brands luxury pieces, Muji's products are truly investment pieces - because they really give you full bang for the buck.  The price tag may make you think, but it's definitely not a show-stopper. 

So (we should conclude before this post gets too long), if you're in the market for an organized home or office that supports your lifestyle/workstyle like a good bra, give Muji's products a go.  And if you're not sure which to buy, we can always help you with that - we've read, digested and used the catalog so much that we can almost spit out the product codes on demand.  Hash tag occupational hazard. 

Disclaimer:  This is NOT a sponsored post. 

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