The Magic of Muji Minimalism

Muji is the short version of what was initially a longer brand name, Mujirushi Ryōhin, Japanese for “no-brand quality goods”. The Muji story begun nearly 3 decades ago with the launch of a product brand of supermarket chain the Seiyu. Eventually Mujirushi Ryōhin opened its own shop (in 1983)…fast track 29 years… and enter the Muji flagship on 8th Avenue as featured in this post.

The expansion of Muji out of its native Japan begun with a U.K shop in 1991, and has since continued. Today, Muji has a staggering 300 points of sale in Japan (of which over 200 are stores). The western Muji point of sale count is up to well over 150 (the biggest individual markets in terms of store count are the U.K, Taiwan, Singapore and China).

What Muji does well are the varied store formats – the strong graphic profile and distinctive design seem to be attractive no matter the size and shape it comes in. The fact that Muji has a big range of products creates room for certain customization to suit the specific conditions of the individual store.

The Muji product range in new markets (clothing, home consumer goods, stationary etc) is considerably slimmer than in the Japanese domestic range which boasts over 5000 articles.

The brand philosophy was early set by a distinct minimalist aesthetic with a strong environmental conscience. Over the years, innovation, clever design and always über slick packaging looking sets Muji apart from the retail crowd. I find myself not being able to identify another retailer offering the same kind of product mix – can you? Muji does have a Magic Mojo. Committed fans insist that a Muji is a lifestyle rather than a brand. Clearly the appeal of the anti-logo is timeless, and stark minimalism seems to grab a new stronghold in these volatile times.

What is so nice about Muji is that it´s minimalism never becomes pretentious. Playfulness and creativity always lurk in the corners of the Muji experience, collaborations with Lego and pursuits of increasing parent-child collaborations through DIY-projects is retail magic at its best – namely, when the retail truly inspires well beyond the visit to the store.

The Muji brand opened the NYC 8th Avenue flagship in 2008.


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