I would have given an arm and a leg to work at New York Times and now I am ready to kill to be able to work in this absolutely stunning Renzo Piano (alongwith FXFowle and Gensler for interior design) designed building for the institutional newspaper in Westside Manhattan. The 52-storey, 319 metre skyscraper is a green building and has many energy-saving features. Besides energy-saving features, there’s also the New York icon Dean and Deluca cafe.
However the best feature is perhaps the Japanese retailer Muji who have taken up the ground level to turn it into a 5000 square feet store. Muji which means no brand-good quality has had a tiny shop at MoMA for a long time but this is the first flagship store. The hysteria generated before the opening of the store was phenomenal, my friend who lives in downtown Manhattan tells me. People were queuing up overnight to be able to get in as soon as the store opened its doors to the people of NY for the first time!
But I can understand the excitement. I used to delightfully browse though their tiny concessionaire at Seiyu department store in Singapore for some of the most minimalist, organic and functional objects that are also very affordable. Travel accessories, organisers, fabrics, household accessories and Japanese snacks, you’ll find them all here.
While we don’t have a lot of Japanese design influence yet except for Yo Sushi, Dubai’s resident Japanese designer Manabu Ozawa who has designed the 50 degrees store at Souk al Bahar at Downtown Burj Dubai that’ll open sometime in mid-January 2008 will add a strong dose of Far Eastern flavours. Until then Daiso perhaps? I’m not kidding. Although a bit tacky (surprising as Japanese can never be tacky), if you look carefully, you’ll find some cool stuff and some of them for Dhs five only!!! I picked up some tin tea canisters with Japanese artwork on them (quite cool really), mini Japanese kites that can make some cool objects of display and even a cardboard box with Ginza style English graphics (with hearts etc) that I intend to display in my art-corner. They were far more than Dhs five but still a bargain. Daiso is located on the third floor of Lamcy Plaza.
Hopefully Muji will open their store in Dubai sometime soon.