Disarmingly Simple, Delightfully Versatile

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Recently, my roommate got me this Muji notebook as a gift.

I love it because it’s both simple and versatile. I appreciate the simplicity of the all-white design: there are no unnecessary frills or details, and everything about it is purely functional while being aesthetically streamlined and clean. At the same time, the plastic cover has a ziplock edge that allows the user to insert whatever cover they want…so really, this simple little all-white notebook is masquerading as an infinite number of customizations and creations. The beauty of it all is that it can accommodate someone as fickle as me (who likes to change and customize things as often as possible), while reverting to a default appearance that is just enough as it is.

In general, I love Muji’s design aesthetic (shoutout to Catherine for posting about Muji pens earlier!). As this Co.Design article explains, “Muji’s full name—Mujirushi Ryōhin—translates to ‘no brand, good quality.’…Muji’s generic, anonymous products were a statement against the excessive labeling and high price tags accompanying luxury goods….[The company] smartly recognized that a growing segment of the population placed a premium on functionality, affordability, and quality over marketing hype, inflated price tags, and status symbols.”

What I find interesting is that this “no brand, good quality” philosophy has actually become incorporated within the company’s brand itself. In fact, just the mere fact that Muji even has a philosophy makes it a branded company (and one could even argue that it’s impossible for companies not to have brands, so long as they sell certain products/services and engage customers in some way). This adds an interesting and somewhat paradoxical perspective on the changing landscape of branding, particularly given the upwards trend in minimalist, functional product design.

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(In case you’re curious, the paper consists of a subtle gray dotted grid – perfect for writing and sketching, without being overly cluttered or overbearing.)

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