This past Saturday, everything changed. That is when Muji, an iconic Japanese lifestyle brand, took over the iconic former Meier & Frank space on the ground floor of the Nines Hotel. The nearly 40-year-old brand had been running a downtown pop-up for the last six weeks as they blinged out—complete with an art wall crafted by PNCA students—the 11,000-square-foot retail space chock-full of their signature essential oil diffusers, smooth-glide pen displays, and minimalist clothing. Hyperbole? Sure. But if your fashion sense skews heavily toward neutral basics and simple silhouettes, add Muji to your list of go-tos.

"We think Portland just in general really fits with the Muji concept," says LA-based company rep Ichigo Suguira, citing the products' organic look and feel and our city's "strong community voice." Muji Portland is the biggest location in the US after the New York City shop.

A lion from the Muji embroidery options.

Founded in Japan in 1980, Muji is a shortened form of "Mujirushi Ryohin," meaning "no-brand quality goods." As such, packaging and labels are all simple black-and-white text, with very little in the way of traditional branding. The minimalist "no brand" aesthetic has created a cult following over the years, and it's easy to see why. The Portland store allows you to personalize things with an onsite embroidery machine that monograms totes and clothing (the cost is $3 per design or for up to 10 letters). On the home goods side, a special stamp set with custom Portland designs is on display for shoppers to perfect their custom notebook or gift wrap.

Can't get enough Muji?

Next Monday, November 26, Muji Masaaki Kanai travels from Tokyo to give a talk at the Portland Art Museum on the store's history and unique sense of design. Moderated by Mitsuhiro Yamazaki, Ziba's "international strategist," the discussion will also feature Nike’s chief of design, John Hoke, and Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. cofounders Brian Faherty and Sara Fritsch.                                                        

The Philosophy and Design of MUJI

6 p.m. Mon, Nov 26, Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave, FREE

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