MUJI To Open First West Coast Store In San Francisco This Fall

California design junkies rejoice: Japanese retailer MUJI recently announced that it will open its first West Coast location in San Francisco‘s SOMA district this fall. With 7,250 square feet of retail space, the new store will be the fifth and largest MUJI location in the United States.

MUJI has developed a cult following in the design community for producing simple, functional lifestyle items that are high on quality and low in price. The MUJI retail environment mirrors this streamlined approach, with spare design, soft lighting and Zen music in each of the chain’s four New York City locations.

While the store sells everything from notebooks to frying pans to organic cotton T-shirts, travelers will be especially pleased to find a wide range of well-designed travel accessories. The store’s assortment of bags, pouches, cases, bottles, containers and dividers will revolutionize the way you pack, as well as introduce a touch of Japanese simplicity into your travel experience.

[Flickr image via Stephen Spencer]

Muji Chronotebook: Right for the Road?

I’ve never been one to plan my trips down to the minute. I’d rather have a list of sites and activities that I want to check out and then figure out the timing of it all once I hit the ground. Schedules and agendas remind me too much of the office. Trips are supposed to help me break out of my cubicle and live my life untethered. But the Muji Chronotebook may be the day planner that changes my mind about how I organize trips.

Rather than being a linear day planner like the old-school Filofax, the Chronotebook lets you plan your day around a small circular “clock” in the middle of the page. The left side is for AM and the right is PM. The circles are large enough that you can recognize what time you are assigning to an activity but small enough to have most of the page left for notes, addresses, comments and other details you want to write down as you are out and about on your travels.

What I like about the Chronotebook is that it can be both a planner and a notebook. I don’t want to carry any more than I need to when I travel, but having a notebook to jot down my thoughts or ideas is key. And with the Chronotebook being a planner first and foremost, it could help you maximize your trip without feeling like you’re being too rigid with your leisure time.

I could definitely see myself in my vrbo apartment at night, planning my next day’s activties in my Chronotebook, adding details such as what trams to take and what market my favorite guidebook recommends and then going to sleep content in the knowledge that the following day in some exotic city is going to be totally rad.*

* It’s my daydream so I get to say “rad.”

[Via psfk]

In a Bag Cities: Toy Blocks for Travelers or the Kid Inside

At my dad’s house is a bag of wooden blocks. They are vintage Playskol-a present given to my brother way back when but still fun to haul out just the same. I use my son as an excuse. The Japanese company MUJI makes blocks in a bag that are so adult friendly a kid isn’t needed for a reason to play.

Taking the term, “city blocks” to a new level, MUJI’s wooden blocks cross generations by representing the world’s most famous cities. You can own New York, Paris, Tokyo or London-or buy them all to mix it up. The Eiffel Tower joins Big Ben perhaps? The Empire State Building next to Senso Ji?

If you’re looking for a present for the world traveler in your life, these might be it. Or use them as a creative way to drop a “Let’s go there” hint. Or when you’re sitting at your desk wishing your were heading somewhere exciting you can build your destination and pretend. If you live in a city and wonder how suburbia might feel, you can build that too. Suburbia comes with trees.

You can buy In a Bag, New York at MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in Manhattan. All of them can be ordered on-line from the MUJI website.