Minimalists rejoice: Japanese import Muji has finally made its way to Boston. The pop-up location (297 Newbury St.) will carry a selection of the brand’s signature goods — stationary supplies and acrylic organizers — until the permanent flagship at 359 Newbury Street (formerly Fossil) opens Jan. 27.
“The Boston market was very important to us, and we’ve spent two years looking for the right location,” Asako Shimazaki, president of Muji USA during a walk-through of the pop-up location, which also happens to be the company’s first-ever pop-up space in the U.S. While Muji has more than 700 locations globally — including six each in the New York and California — the Newbury Street locations are firsts for Boston.
While the pop-up space includes many of Muji’s signature products — soft white cotton oxford shirts, thin-tip gel pens and the ultrasonic aroma diffusers Shimazaki herself was instrumental in creating — it's merely a small percentage of the Japanese locations’ 7000 in-store offerings. An average U.S. store, like the forthcoming 10,000-square-foot Boston location, will carry around 4,000 spanning lifestyle accessories, home goods, stationery and apparel.
And, as is across the Muji brand, the items are made for a compact life in compact spaces — in other words, perfect for cramped Boston area students. A cleaning set folds neatly into itself and comes with interchangeable, replaceable heads for mopping or dusting functions. A "Right Angle" sock is sewn at a unique 90-degree angle — a trick picked up by Muji designers from a grandmother in the Czech Republic, who apparently made the best socks ever — as to eliminate slouching and heel slip. (Socks are typically manufactured at 120-degree angle. When will we ever learn?)
"Everything [we sell] has purpose and function," says Shimazaki, who also points to the brand's limited waste policy. The aforementioned gel pens can be refilled at any location for $1. A parchment-colored calendar is a date-less grid, so the owner can refill and erase at their leisure.
When the permanent location opens, it will feature embroidering service and customization station — with ink stamps of Boston landmarks, like the Zakim Bridge and Trinity Church — so you can make every Muji product feel like your own. Because if you haven't noticed already, each simply designed product lacks a brand name or logo.
Because for Muji, it's about you, not them. As Shimazaki puts it: "We want to improve our customers' lives with our products."