MUJI: SWEEPING NYC

Meaning “no brand,” MUJI comes from the Japanese word mujirushi and their simple aesthetic mirrors their moniker. With humble beginnings, MUJI started as a small storefront in 1980 in the hip Aoyama area of Tokyo, offering only 40 products. Since the concept emerged in the Japanese metropolis 30 years ago, the company has skyrocketed into a worldwide brand with a cult following for its minimal, reasonably-priced merchandise. The essence of the brand lies in its no-frills nature and their storefronts always mirror this simplistic beauty. Their environmentally conscious mission is evident through their dedication to sustainability and fair trade.Though the brand has a generally Japanese aesthetic, MUJI translates worldwide because of its ethos and adaptable style that transcends cultures and continents. Since its opening in Japan, the company has expanded to the states with three locations in New York City and one at JFK airport. The minimalistic designs of the goods appear at home in these airy and loft-like spaces, while the expansive and modern glass-walled interiors are the ideal backdrop for MUJI’s contemporary approach to style.

MUJI SoHo
Immersed in the bustling SoHo neighborhood of New York City, MUJI’s first U.S. store opened with a palpable excitement for the cult Japanese brand. On Broadway between Grand and Howard Streets is a respite of neutral-toned bedding and neatly organized products laid out in the high-ceilinged space with exposed steel lighting and light wood-paneled flooring—accenting the natural color palette of MUJI’s products. Rows of colorful pens, housewares, furniture and clothing all can be found in the 3,200-square-foot space, which opened in 2007. With more than 2,000 different designs, including clever can openers and sleek storage units, the SoHo store’s success created a vision for future NYC locations.
455 Broadway, New York, NY 10013

MUJI TIMES SQUARE
Intermingled in New York City’s famous New York Times Building, designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano, MUJI Times Square opened its doors in 2008. Overlooking an internal moss and birchtree garden, visible from the street and open to the sky, the Times Square location is a modern and beautifully designed space showcasing MUJI’s unadorned commodities. The 4,350 square feet of retail floor space mirrors the SoHo store but on a grander, more luxurious scale. Interior designer and architect Takashi Sugimoto helped to create a dynamic high-ceilinged space with airy glass windows looking into the wooden and steel interior. The muted MUJI colors add to the minimalistic space. The store holds everything from logo-free men’s and women’s clothing to a corner filled with MUJI’s furniture collection including aluminum tables and simple sofas.
The New York Times Building, 620 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10018

MUJI to GO
After the success of two NYC locations, MUJI created a smaller version for those in transit at JFK International Airport in 2008. With 596 square feet of retail floor space, the new format for MUJI is much smaller than its counterparts but equally as efficient with a focus on travel and mobile accessories. MUJI to GO at JFK was the first in the U.S. and only the second in the world when it opened, the first being at the Hong Kong International Airport. At its opening, the space offered more than 300 household items and 80 apparel choices. In 2009, MUJI to GO at JFK was awarded second prize for retail concept in the Excellence in Airport Concession’s  Contest by Airports Council International-North America.
JFK International Airport Terminal 5, New York, NY

MUJI CHELSEA
The 3,434-square-foot retail space opened as the third location in New York in 2008, shortly after the success of MUJI to GO. About the same size as its first SoHo location, the Chelsea store offers up more than 1,450 household and 350 apparel items. The white-ceilinged loft-like space with wood flooring reflects the same uncomplicated aesthetic as its counterparts. Clear glass tables throughout the store showcase the neutrally-colored goods, while rows of neatly hung apparel are highlighted from simple rows of hanging lights.
16 W 19th Street, New York, NY 10011

Text by LENA VAZIFDAR


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