It happens every once in a while — the kid who sporadically attends your morning lecture finally shows his face, sits next to you and asks to borrow a pen. You reach into your bag and dig for that one pencil or purple NYU ballpoint you own. Although it takes several extra seconds to find exactly what you’re looking for, it’s worth it because, deep down, you know you’re not getting that pen back. And there was no chance you were just going to hand over one of your MUJI 0.5 gels and risk him taking it.
For many NYU students, MUJI pens are precious pieces guarded in their pencil cases. MUJI translated as “no-brand quality goods” in Japanese, and offers a great variety of products from stationery to household goods and apparel. With a store on Cooper Square, MUJI is the go-to place for many NYU students in search of pens, notebooks and general office supplies.
“It’s kind of like a low-level luxury,” CAS senior Preet Bhaidaswla said. “I see it as the same way as drinking almond milk lattes or like having avocado toast.”
MUJI pens and notebooks have become incredibly popular among students. Owning MUJI products is almost like being a part of an unspoken club.
“It’s expensive for what it is, but people want other people to see that they use that or that they have that,” Bhaidaswala said. “So I think that’s probably why it developed as a culture. It’s like so people know that they use nice pens, but it’s not like a huge investment either.”
Simplistic, practical and elegant are some words to describe the affordable Japanese brand. MUJI is best known for their smooth-writing gel pens and simple, earthy-toned stationary.
“They are aesthetically pleasing — just touching it feels like slicing butter when I write,” CAS first-year Farihah Azad said. “It just motivates me like, ‘Oh I should take better notes.”
For organized, bullet-journal loving students and avid careful note-takers, MUJI pens help students stay on top of their notes.
“I love how they have so many different colors because it makes it fun for me to actually study and color code my information when writing my homework,” SPS junior Julia Shahery said.
MUJI pens are so essential to Shahery’s everyday notetaking that she can’t take notes properly in class without all her colors.
“When I go to class and I forget a specific color, I get very annoyed because I don’t like writing all my information down in one color,” Shahery said. “When I look at it later, it’s not like hard for me to read but it doesn’t go in my head as well. I like to write answers in blue and questions in black. For important information, I write in a bright color.”
MUJI’s effortless uncluttered shapes, plain colors and natural materials provide a zen-like atmosphere. With everything that is going on in the world — all the violence and hate — on top of all the stress students face every day, it’s important to find moments of peace. This could be as simple as using a beautifully designed pen.
“I think it’s [minimalism] just a trend right now,” CAS first-year Maryam Tayeh said. “People are changing from how they were before. It’s kind of like life becomes more approachable. It’s easier to navigate because there is not as much stuff you have to worry about, so it’s less distractions.”
For Tayeh, getting organized also contributes to her productivity.
“I just feel more motivated and I feel more polished,” Tayeh said.“It’s a mental thing. If your notes look more polished, you feel more put together.”
In recent years, more and more students have grown attracted to the Japanese brand’s unique style and great quality. The NYU community makes up a huge part of customers at Cooper Square MUJI store, according to sales associate Jesus Flores, who says an estimated number of 30 NYU students visit the location per day.
“They are always saying people recommend them the pens, notebooks and everything,” Flores said. “I heard people say that it’s their ‘happy place,’” Flores said.
Email Jiachen Xu at [email protected]