MUJI moves into hotels
MUJI is one of the most interesting companies in the world. Formed in Japan in the 1980s, Muji has a philosophy based on design minimalism, and emphasis on recycling and avoidance of waste, and a policy of not imposing a logo or brand on their products.
The idea is that if you buy a MUJI product you are buying the antithesis of a foreign-made luxury brand and are stepping aside from a consumerist society. The company was worried that low-priced, poor-quality designer goods were flooding Japan to the detriment of society and the national soul. Thereby, a high-quality product which was made with respect for the environment and came without a logo was a critique of Western consumerism and brands, with the purpose of “restoring a vision of products that are actually useful for the customer and maintain an ideal of the proper balance between living and the objects that make it possible”.
The range of products produced by MUJI has always been impressive; everything from stationary to clothing to food and kitchen appliances can be bought from the company. The lack of a branding has in itself become a brand, though it is one which requires little to no marketing and appeals to a whole demographic of people to whom the idea of acting as glorified billboards for companies is anathema.
Now, MUJI is spreading out into the world of hotels with its first hospitality project set to open in Shenzhen, China later this month. Promoted as an “anti-gorgeous, anti-cheap concept,” the hotel is designed to reflect MUJI’s simple approach to aesthetics. The company believes that it can provide a better hotel experience through its superior design standards and its attention to detail when it comes to choice of materials and furnishings.
Emphasising wood and stone over concrete and vinyl should take care of that, and other additions such as a library, a gym, a diner and a shop further improving the experience. It is fair to say that this sort of minimalist design, which nevertheless provides modern living, is set to be a big trend in the coming years as people continue to psychologically rebel against consumerism and globalisation, desirous instead of a more fulfilling and personal experience. Hotels of this nature are sure to become more and more popular over time.
It is not hard to see other companies with a similarly strong design aesthetic getting into this arena in the future. IKEA stands out as a great example of this. The Swedish company operates several own-brand hotels in its native country as well as having partnered up with Marriot for its Moxy brand of budget hotels. It makes a lot of sense – if you have a stake in a hotel as well as being the company which supplies all the furniture then you will be able to do it rather cheaply.
In the case of MUJI, the design principles and aesthetic espoused by the company make the idea of staying in one of their hotels very appealing, and it is to be hoped that this experiment goes well and the chain expands further across the world.