Muji, Champion Of Anonymous Mass Production, Is Now Selling Handmade Goods

Muji is a master of mass production. From housewares to prefabs, the Japanese retailer’s products celebrate minimalist, anonymous design. Which makes its latest collaboration–a line of home goods crafted by traditional artisans–all the more unique.

The exhibition, which runs until June 26 at Muji’s Fifth Avenue flagship in New York–is centered around the theme of “Tatazumai,” which roughly translates to mean appearance, shape, and atmosphere. Curated by by Kazumi Sakata, the show includes works by glass artist Kazumi Tsjui, artist Michiko Iwata, ceramicist Keisuke Iwata, wood designer Ryuji Mitani, ceramist Masanobu Ando, and clothing artist Akiko Ando. For a company that prefers to talk about the brand over an individual author, that’s a lot of names and a big departure. Muji acknowledged as much in a statement:

This is a very big challenge for MUJI, who has for so long valued anonymity and not named names; but could also be seen as inevitable. This is because we believe that both the things that these artists create and the words that they weave yield a ‘congenial lifestyle.’

Muji’s pop-up exhibitions–all products featured are available for sale–are part of its retail strategy to entice repeat visits to the store. This one can be seen as an embrace of the traditional Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which became a mainstream design trend a few years back. Wabi-sabi celebrates the imperfect, the asymmetrical, and the natural. This is evident in the hand-molded ceramic tea pot by Keisuke Iwata; Ryuji Mitani’s chiseled wood vessels; and Kazumi Tsjui’s misshapen glass containers. The pieces area celebration of the human, rather than the machine, and show how simple objects can be tremendously rich.

Spy the full collection in the slide show above, and see it in person at 475 Fifth Ave in New York.

All Photos: courtesy MujiDB