MUJI’s household accessories are practically staples in every Singaporean home — take the circulator fan, practical storage boxes and linen baskets, and bookshelves for instance — so why not consider their range of furniture as well? Sleek, minimalist and timeless, they’re every ‘Japandi’ home owners’ dream, even better when we know that they’re designed with small spaces in mind too; dining tables can be folded down or extended, while bed frames come with ample hidden storage, perfect for even shoebox apartments.
This January, we’ve even got a whole new furniture range to consider — Japanese retail company MUJI is here with a new Rubberwood furniture series, of desks, beds, sofas and more in classic MUJI-style designs, now made with the sustainable material.
Debuting just last week at the Plaza Singapura flagship store, the launch of this product series marks the first time MUJI‘s headquarters has authorised ASEAN markets to independently develop products, hence this line that’s purposefully tailored to our Southeast Asian region.
“MUJI is strongly committed to providing our customers with a vast and versatile range of environmentally-friendly lifestyle products. They are functional daily necessities that support everyday life. Our purpose is to deliver comfort and practicality, where our products are known for being ‘just right’,” says Mr Katsushi Onishi, Managing Director, MUJI Singapore on how the new range is able to adapt to interior spaces and lifestyles in the ASEAN market.
On Rubberwood — and why it’s the best choice for Southeast Asian climates
Singapore has one of the largest selections of the rubberwood furniture range available, while we hear that the tropical hardwood timber was chosen for its many functional and aesthetic features. Firstly, this is a hardwood that’s solid and durable, and thus able to withstand the wear of daily-use furniture, while the wood itself has a dense, coarse grain with a medium density, similar to that of ash and maple wood.
Most interestingly, MUJI has sourced for sustainable Southeast Asian rubberwood that’s kinder on the environment, while supportive of local businesses and farming communities too. Since these are grown in a rubber plantation farm in Vietnam, the environmentally-friendly material is suited to our hot and humid climate as well, and like oak, is resistant to mold, bacteria, and fungi. In short, we’ll be able to reap all the benefits of rubberwood, while still enjoying the quality and calming minimalism MUJI’s designs always bring to interior spaces.
Where it’s from, and why it’s sustainable
With rubber trees mostly grown in Southeast Asia, the use of rubberwood was considered by MUJI when looking for a tropical timber that meets their high requirements of quality and functionality — as well as sustainability. Rubberwood is grown in abundance, and is actually an agricultural byproduct of the rubber industry. For this, we have to delve a bit into the rubber plantation process.
For this furniture series, the material is sourced from a rubber plantation farm and lumber mill in Vietnam where about 1,100 hectares of rubber trees are logged every year. The rubber trees grown here are first tapped for latex, which lasts about 20 years, after which sap will no longer be produced; the unproductive trees are then felled and replanted for a circular system.
However, logged rubberwoods are often discarded after their useful life — which is where MUJI comes in. They have decided to repurpose the byproduct of the above process into furniture, which is ideal for two key goals. One, using rubberwood reduces waste and the need for deforestation solely for furniture, and two, further makes it a cost-effective timber option, compared to traditional hardwoods such as oak, that then keeps MUJI’s furniture affordable for all of us.
So what’s in MUJI’s new Rubberwood furniture collection? An extensive range of furniture for the bedroom, living, dining and study, from storage beds that make effective use of underbed space, to simple wooden sofas and coffee tables designed to bring warmth and cosiness into the home. Fans of MUJI will be pleased to see that a few of their popular furniture models have been re-launched with the rubberwood material as well.
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Rubberwood’s natural wood grain comes through most prominently on large surfaces such as the dining table and low coffee table, while overall, the colour of the wood is treated to look natural and warm-toned, which makes for an inviting feel. Our personal favourite has to be the lounge chair in rubberwood, where its reclining function comes coupled with soft fabrics for us to enjoy ample comfort. The shoe rack was created for just our region too, especially since it’s a common feature at Asian households.
As with all things MUJI, we can expect prime functionality as well. The rubberwood dining series, in particular, makes good use of limited spaces if one has a smaller home, while an extendable table design further increases the piece’s versatility, as it can be folded in and extended out when required. MUJI’s signature modular system of Stacking Shelves also see a rubberwood makeover, and is a grid shelve system that can be built around your ideal configuration and lifestyle.