Los Angeles, it’s time to meet your Muji. The Tokyo-based retailer with 380 locations in Japan, 200 stores in other countries and a devoted following among design aficionados here in the U.S. is scheduled to open its first store in Southern California on Dec. 14.
An 8,600 square feet, Muji Hollywood will be larger than seven other Mujis in this country and will serve as the flagship for Muji U.S.A., business coordination and development representative Kyoko Hirota said during a tour of the construction site Saturday.
For those who aren’t familiar with Muji style, Hirota explained that the parent company’s name translates from Japanese as “no-brand quality goods.” Though Muji often gets compared to Ikea and Crate & Barrel, neither comparison is quite right; Hirota says the mix of modern, minimalist products express “simplicity and modesty but with a complexity in design and thought.”
The store will carry Muji’s office accessories, health and beauty products, clothing, dishes and cutlery, household cleaning implements, bedding and furniture -- chairs, dining tables and clever Muji space-savers, such as mattresses with screw-on legs that eliminate the need for bulky bed frames.
Launching as an exclusive in L.A.: Found Muji, collections of objects from around the world. Hirota described the line as vintage items “reprocessed through the Muji filter to fit a current lifestyle.” The L.A. Muji also will be the first in the U.S. to carry food, including Japanese rice crackers, cookies, chocolate and tea. The stationery department will have a stamping station, so customers can imprint minimalist Muji paper goods with customized designs.
The location -- in a small shopping plaza with a CVS drugstore and Fresh & Easy grocery market -- may strike some design shoppers as an odd choice. But during the Saturday sneak peek arranged by the Hollywood Entertainment District, Hirota noted the store’s proximity to TLC Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s) and the Hollywood & Highland shopping center.
“We chose this location for the cultural diversity,” she said, adding that the store should attract not only tourists but also residents, who could arrive via the nearby Metro Red Line station.
As a teaser to the store opening, Muji will operate a pop-up shop in front of the store starting Dec. 3 and running through year’s end. The pop-up will emphasize the company’s travel items -- neck cushions, organizers and other merchandise sold in the Muji to Go JFK store in the New York airport. [Updated: On Dec. 3 the company announced that it was postponing the opening of the pop-up until Dec. 7. Read our follow-up post.]
The L.A. opening is part of what is intended to be a rapid expansion in the U.S. Plans call for 20 to 25 new Muji stores in the U.S. in the next three years, Hirota said, including sites in Southern California, although she declined to specify locations. One lure to attract the curious to the opening day in L.A.: The first 1,000 customers at the Dec. 14 opening will receive a free small tote bag. 7021 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles; www.muji.us.
Updated: This post was revised around 1 p.m. Nov. 12 to include new information from Muji about the tote bag giveaway. The bags will go to the first 1,000 visitors to the store, not just to customers who make a purchase, as was previously announced.