Tuesday, February 15, 2011

If we had a Muji store...

We were asked to identify a line of products from Muji that we would launch as our first line of our concept store. So, i looked around for interesting stuff to show you guys when i chanced upon this here little tidbit of information.
Here's an article on Muji by Southbook publishing written by Peng Yangjun and Chen Jiaojiao, two photographers behind issue #70 of Colors Magazine Beijing

They mentioned that Muji's "huge acclaim" was due to its 'no brand' philosophy of low prices and high quality. I for one completely agree that Muji's brand of "accessible minimalism" was a breathof fresh air amidst all the frilly products and items designers were coming up in the 80's

Here's a look at some Muji's more interesting Products:

This here ladies and gents, is a flat-packed set of speakers made from cardboard. They come packaged in an EVA plastic pocket which reinforces Muji's emphasis on the bare minimum.
The cardboard housing of the speakers is made from bio-degradeable sugar cane pulp, once again bringing Muji's recycling intentions into focus. I guess these speaker don't work all that well since any produced sound gets affected by the cardboard but I personally think this is an amazing product as it shows that what is common to all of us can be drastically different.

Next up is the new Muji iPhone apps which include the Muji calendar, notepad and catalog.
The notepad retails at $3.99 on itunes but the other two are free. While these aren't physical products, they are just as cool. Like, really.
The only thing I can say about these apps are that they are really "Muji". They don't feature very much color but they look very 'synthesised' if you will. They are just as organised as any Muji store would be and heavily feature user interaction. The are easy to use and the designs, like their physical product counterparts, the bare essentials.
To be perfectly honest I got really excited and downloaded the free apps the second I knew they were accessible on iTunes.
So this brings us to the end of another blog post. Stay tuned for more updates.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thoughts about Muji. Part 2

After a visit to an actual Muji store, Nicholas and I learnt a whole lot about Muji in terms of its identity, corporate image as well as products. Here's a few images to start us off:

As you can see, Muji offers almost anything in its stores. From food to containers and even stationery.

By now we all know Muji emphasizes on recycling and prides itself on the simplicity of its products.

In a prior interview with Mr. Hiroyoshi Azami, President of Muji USA, he mentioned that the reason why their products are so simple is such that people from the most diversified of cultures can accept them.

Though some may find several of Muji's products to be pricey, it is simply the price to pay for quality. For instance:

Muji LC Digital Clock Mini

This here mini clock is no bigger than your palm. Yet it looks so good. Sure it may be a little pricey for a clock that size but the seamlessness of the product simply screams "Muji". I'm sure many of us may not make a trip down to a Muji store just to buy this little clock here, but if someone got us this very clock as a present, we'd all be really excited! Am I right or am I right?

Stay tuned more more updates as we look into more Muji products.

Thoughts about Muji.

After a visit to Muji, i picked up some unique points that makes Muji "Muji". 

If you realised, Muji is distinguished by its design minimalism, emphasis on recycling, avoidance of waste in production and packaging, and no-logo or "no-brand" policy.
The name Muji is derived from the first part of Mujirushi Ryƍhin, translated as No Brand Quality Goods on Muji's European website.

Packaging of Muji Products
The packagings are simple, to the minimum, but yet it meets the purpose of being presentable. Thus making the price of the product lower.

Japanese styled banner to show prices, I can literally see the price of the products from far. The display for products on sales is just a huge container, although the customers messed up the products, but they still looked pretty presentable, because of the packaging.

Therefore i believe the packaging of Muji is one huge unique point as compared to the other stores, the concept of eco-friendly is widely used throughout the store.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

What's interesting about Muji...

What i find that is most interesting about Muji is the fact that they do not try to compete in terms of excessive packaging that may be overlooked by other brands and also the fact that they do not print their brand name on the products they have in store...

What Muji lacks...

I went to do some research on the Muji store to find what muji lacks. I found out that most of the furniture design are almost exactly the same which tells me that the Muji store does not really have a unique design. Their products are not distinctive from other brands, in fact, the products that are available in the store can be found anywhere else.

This is what that makes the muji store lose its signature as their products are similar to other brands like Ikea. Muji products lack of a 'wow' factor that can bring everyone's attention to their store.

Their motto is to be eco-friendly and they emphasize on recycling but maybe they can try to be more creative to come up with a design that also compromises with the idea of being eco-friendly.

Visit to Muji.

took to visit to Muji at Marina Square with Samuel.
I believe that concepts does not pop out from nowhere, to design a concept store, we need to live with the store. 
Though we were not able to live with the store, but i believe it is important to be at the store to look at how it is like, to come up with a concept that is suitable for the store and the idea they want to portray to their customers.

Samuel and I decided to go to the store as customers, as we thought that it will be better if we look at the store as what the other customers are viewing it. We went around the store, took some shots of the products and the uniqueness of the store.

Here is our first impression of the store : A japanese store. Simple, yet fulfilling (thats because we can get anything from food to electronics to pillows to clothes to cosmetics. And yet it does not have a supermarket look.) The human traffic in the store is average, not too crowded, neither too quiet.

Here are some of the shots i took while browsing though the store.

I realised that Muji has a very strong japanese focus on their products, even on the labels, they are all made traditional japanese style. The displays have very strong japanese focus, for instance the baskets that they use to display their food products. They have very simple, yet nice and neat displays and arrangement for their products. 


Like, Muji... seriously

So a while ago we decided that we were gonna do a concept store for Muji. Everyone knows Muji is like really great and the products are really cool but its not that often that people actually go into a Muji store to shop. So Nicholas and I decided to actually go down to a Muji store to see what the it was really like. So in the mean time, here's a little tidbit of information for you guys.

It says here on wiki that our dear friend Muji started with no more than 40 products back in the day in 1980. It has come a pretty long way since then to offer 7,000 products in store worldwide. Muji has won a couple of design awards here and there and even has fans calling themselves "mujirers", like ...really.

So stick around more more updates on our findings and in the meantime, all you info crazed people can find out more about Muji with the following links.

Muji Global: http://www.muji.com/
Muji Singapore: http://www.muji.com/sg/
Muji on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muji


Thursday, February 10, 2011


A Nokia concept store.

Hmm, got a project brief for Experience Design Methods: The Concept Store. 
The project requires you to assume the role of a design entrepreneur. If you have the ability to tap on unlimited resources, what would you like to offer? This project can serve as a basis for your studio major- redesigning lifestyles.
Thinking of this brief, i came upon a Nokia concept store image on the net and I realised the reason why every concept store is different. Probably the answer is clear, every concept store has it's target audience and the message that they want to bring across. For instance, Nokia's tagline is "Connecting People", there is a story that they want to sell.

I began to notice that there are hidden messages beyond the layout of stores. For instance, Mcdonald's have chairs that are made of plastic to encourage fast-flowing customers crowd, whereas Starbucks has a different approach, they have chairs that are comfy, which encourages customers to take their time to enjoy their food.

I believe the question now is what approach and impression do my group want to show to our target audience.

- nicholas