In design you often hear people say they want something that is:
... but choose two. Because all three together is an impossibility.
While most often this is describing a service like hiring a graphic designer I believe that the idea can apply to products and companies as well.
MUJI is a Japanese company that creates minimal, unbranded, affordable, and eco-friendly products of all categories from food, to electronics, to furniture, to skincare.
Somehow MUJI is able to create products that are very well designed while also being uber convenient and very affordable. The only downfall is that it's hard to buy MUJI unless you live in Japan as that's where most of their stores are located, but they're continuously expanding in more and more cities around the world. They just opened a store in Toronto, and another flagship store in New York City as well.
I've been aware of this product for a few years, and I've been intrigued by the design of it since I first saw it. The first iteration of the product shared the same form as the product subjected in this blog post, except it was a CD player rather than a Bluetooth speaker.
In fact, I wasn't even aware that it was available as a Bluetooth option until I visited the MUJI store in Akihabara earler this month and saw it sitting on the shelf.
Though I really love the design of the CD player – it has an exposed disc design, so no lid to cover the disc as it spins – I actually own only a couple of CDs so I mostly just wanted it because I love the design of it and thought it would look great hanging on the wall in my living room. When I saw the Bluetooth speaker I decided to buy that instead as I would get much more use out of it.
The speaker cost around ¥9,800 JPY (which works out to be about $115 CAD) so it's a little more expensive than some of MUJI's products. I bought an electric razor for like thirty bucks and a humidifier for about seventy, but I still believe that it's a good example of how MUJI can blend affordability, good design, and ease of use into one product.
Installing the product is quite easy. The instructions are completely in Japanese, but they're still quite easy to follow.
There's a plate that you fasten to the wall using the included hardware, and then a smaller plate that covers the nails, and then the speaker itself simply slides onto the plate from the bottom to the top of the device. I will also note that if you install it properly, it will be very securely connected to the wall. It starts out with three little nails that poke into the wall to secure it, and then you take 18 additional nails, and poke them into designated holes in the plate and each nail goes into the wall at 45 degree diagonal angles going down. It's a very clever system, and I don't think it will be too much trouble to get out if I ever decide to move it somewhere else, or move into a new apartment.
The product is very easy to use. To turn it on, you simply pull the cable coming out of the bottom of the speaker just like you're turning on a light switch on a table lamp. It has a really satisfying click noise it makes, and it's instantly on. It's fast, and I really like that. There's also a little green LED that lights up when it turns on, and which also blinks when it's in pairing mode just like any other Bluetooth speaker does.
Every other Bluetooth speaker I've ever owned forces you to hold the power button which is usually mushy, or an annoying capacitive touch button, for a couple of agonizing seconds before it boots up. This bluetooth speaker is very fast.
Oh, it also comes with a little remote, but I hardly use it because I just play all my music from my phone and prefer to use that instead.
As for the sound quality... well... you get what you pay for. If you want a good bassy speaker to play your party tunes, this is not going to cut it. I asked my boyfriend Justin what he though of how it sounds, and he said that it reminds him of a toy speaker. But I would compare it more to how a little kitchen radio sounds. It doesn't blow your socks off, but that's not what it's designed for. I use it for background music while chilling at home, playing podcasts, and never have it turned up all the way. I own a big $300 Bluetooth boombox from Klipsch which I use when I need a more full sound.
But yeah, keep in mind that this speaker is not going to satisfy you if you're looking for a Beats, Bose, or Bang & Olufson alternative.
Truly the best part of this product is that it's just a charming little Bluetooth speaker. It's a pleasure to use, and above all it's just beautiful. The uniform hole pattern on the grill reminds me of classic Braun products, or the aluminum Mac Pro "Cheese Grater" tower. It's just... a playful product that adds a touch of tactile joy to your day every time you turn it on.