MUJI Launches Furniture Subscription Service in Japan

Emilee Geist

2020 has been an extraordinary year, to say the least. With the coronavirus pandemic changing billions of people’s lives and forcing them to create office spaces within the confines of their homes, one well-established company is offering a solution in the form of a new subscription furniture service.

Simple, sleek workspace pieces available to rent through MUJI's new furniture subscription service.
Simple, sleek workspace pieces available to rent through MUJI’s new furniture subscription service.

Rented furniture has been around for a long while, but MUJI, a Japanese company with 700 stores around the world and vast product experience with over 7,000 goods ranging from clothing to homeware and food, rents pieces that are representative of an iconic style. While some might call it minimalist, the company sees it differently, explaining that “MUJI’s products, born from an extremely rational manufacturing process, are succinct, but they are not in the minimalist style. That is, they are like empty vessels. Simplicity and emptiness yield the ultimate universality, embracing the feelings and thoughts of all people.”

Simple, sleek workspace pieces available to rent through MUJI's new furniture subscription service.
Simple, sleek workspace pieces available to rent through MUJI’s new furniture subscription service.

The monthly service offers options such as a basic desk and chair for as little as $7.50 a month, which is especially great if you don’t think you’ll need your setup long-term. Of course, if your plan changes, you can also sign up for an annual plan and renew for up to four years. And who knows? You might even like the furniture so much you decide to buy it in the end. Although the focus is currently on temporary home workers, the idea is equally appealing to renters who plan to eventually move somewhere more permanent — or free spirits who move often and just don’t want to wrestle heavy furniture from one place to another.

The service will initially just be limited to Japan, unfortunately, though the company does plan to eventually expand it from there. There remains some question as to whether it will ever be available in the United States, where the company recently took a deep financial hit during the pandemic and filed bankruptcy last month.

Use your smartphone to show a MUJI specialist your space and get the best furniture pieces to match.
Use your smartphone to show a MUJI specialist your space and get the best furniture pieces to match.
A young couple consult with a MUJI specialist to plan their first subscription furniture delivery.
A young couple consult with a MUJI specialist to plan their first subscription furniture delivery.

In addition to selecting from office, bedroom, and lounge furniture, Tokyo residents can also tap into some virtual services to help arrange their spaces. The option called “Petit Renovation” sees designers creating two layouts of each home using the existing furniture to create options for the newly rented pieces. The second option puts you in touch with an online advisor who can walk you through suggestions to design a space to suit your needs.

Not only does the subscription service provide an inexpensive option for monthly furniture rentals, it also provides quality furniture that might otherwise be hard to come by during a global pandemic.

In addition to customers’ reluctance towards in-store shopping over concerns of spreading germs, many manufacturers have fallen behind on production due to shutdowns and problems within the supply chain. Short-term furniture rentals solve the immediate need to get an office set up, but allow the renter to simply return the furniture if they find a solution that better meets their needs later on.

Simple, sleek workspace pieces available to rent through MUJI's new furniture subscription service.
Simple, sleek workspace pieces available to rent through MUJI’s new furniture subscription service.

While convenience is an obvious benefit, some people may have an issue with installing previously-used furniture. Also, during economically-unpredictable times, many might be more willing to make do with the furniture they have rather than fork out the money for rental furniture. Either way, knowing the option is available is, at least in Japan, very 良い (yoi, or good).

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