Murasaki Jirushi Jouhin: Purple Label, Great Products

Muji has always been a luxury of a simple, affordable sort. On March 30th, Muji will open a new store in the Tokyo Midtown complex. Instead of the standard, aggressively humble, utilitarian Muji products, though, they will feature high-design, high-touch manufacture, high-quality furniture with commensurately high prices. The’re going to launch with 30 pieces of furniture and 190 home products. [I’d put up an autotranslation, but Muji’s announcement page is just one big graphic.]
Last year, Muji bought Idee, a slightly troubled maker of high-end minimalist furniture. Jean Snow, rightly, I suspect, predicts that Idee is being leveraged into this new direction. I’m keeping my eye on Jean’s flickr stream
In a related note, it seems Muji’s theme for 2007, at least in Japan, is “renovation.” There’s an essay on their site about how, in an aging Japan where the population is not increasing, yet where the paradigm of disposable newness still holds sway in the housing market, undervalued “used” buildings can make put your individualized desires for a home within reach. A nice strategy for someone who sells primarily the stuff that goes inside a home, not the homes themselves:

For instance, just switching from the notion of buying a new apartment expands the possibilities greatly. In Europe, people don’t compete by throwing up new buildings; instead they adapt, redecorate, and reuse the interiors of old buildings to fit their lifestyles. The long-lasting exterior of a building they call a “skeleton,” and the interior is called “infill.” People in Europe value and reuse the skeleton while they freely adapt the infill. They also have the view that the long-term use of architecture should only be reconsidered after 50 years of so have passed.

[adapted from an translation]

Let’s talk houses
[, japanese only]