I’m a closet shopper. Everyone thinks Tawn is the shopper in this family but sometimes I find something that I think is really cool and I’ll buy it. So it was while we were in Taipei and stopped by a branch of Muji, the Japanese “no brand, high quality” store that is kind of like the Gap meets IKEA but better.
What caught my eye? These exciting Muji cotton handkerchiefs here that are printed with maps of London, New York, Tokyo and Kyoto. Each city has both a present-day map as well as a map of the old city, usually from the mid-1800s.
Almost all my handkerchiefs come from Muji, ever since I first discovered the store in Hong Kong years ago. Their handkerchiefs are of good quality, durable, reasonable priced, and come in a variety of colors and patterns that, while conservative, give me a little room to express myself.
Of course, the fact that I carry a handkerchief at all probably puts me into a category all my own. There seem to be few men anymore who carry handkerchiefs. Truly, though, how can a gentleman not carry one with him? You never know when there will be a spill to clean up, a person in tears, a wound that needs staunching. Plus, these map handkerchiefs would make for cool tray liners during a party. I’m not sure they’ll go into my handkerchief drawer but may instead end up in the linen closet.
More on Muji. Muji describes itself as follows:
“Muji is not a brand. Muji does not make products of individuality or fashion nor does Muji reflect the popularity of its name in its prices. Muji creates products with a view toward global consumption in the future. That means that we do not create products that lure customers into believing that ‘this is the best’ or ‘I must have this.’ We would like our customers to feel the rational sense of satisfaction that comes not with ‘this is the best,’ but with ‘this is enough.’ ‘Best’ becomes ‘enough.'”
In the Wikipedia entry about Muji, the consumer goods retail chain is distinguished by its design minimalism, emphasis on recycling, avoidance of waste in production and packaging, and no-logo or “no-brand” policy. Really, it captures a lot of what I think of as the hallmarks of the Japanese design aesthetic.