Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
About a week ago, Slate published a great piece on Japanese chain Muji written by Michael Hsu. The company, which is planning on opening two stores in NYC in the next few months—one in Soho and one in Midtown—has been "fetishized by design hounds" here in the US for years. Now, with the first two of what will inevitably be many US outposts on the horizon, it's time to get excited about what's in store for shoppers. Though the MoMA Design store carries a small assortment of Muji items, the two new Muji shops will offer an incredibly wide range of goods: furniture, housewares, beauty, clothing and electronics. The appeal of Muji, for those who are unfamiliar with the brand, is it's credo of “no brand quality goods”—products that are simple in design and unadorned with labels.
Muji is often compared to Target or IKEA—perhaps the two most famous purveyors of "good design" at affordable prices—but Muji takes a decidedly different tack from its much larger American and Swedish counterparts. Target insists on "surprising and delighting" its guests; IKEA implores customers to "be brave, not beige." Muji, in contrast, revels in neutrality. Almost all of its products are devoid of color, and the most surprising and delightful aspect of their design is how nondescript they are. A teakettle designed for Target will likely have a visual flourish—a spinning piece of plastic on its spout, perhaps—while a Muji teakettle is content to be just what you expect a teakettle to be.Hsu thinks that Muji is America's best shot at "being set free from design rather than tyrannized by it." We think the chain's arrival will just be an excuse to redecorate our apartment.
· Coming to America [Slate]
· Muji Prepares To Invade America, Debuts A US Website [Racked]
· Storecasting: Tiffany And Muji Updates [Racked]
· Storecasting: Muji to Open Flagship Near Port Authority [Racked]