The Day I Tried to MUJI-fy the Office Without Breaking the Bank
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The Day I Tried to MUJI-fy the Office Without Breaking the Bank

Cherie Tan
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It’s the start of the new year.

Which means that the Seedly Reads team gets a small budget for office supplies and stationery.

And because I’m always complaining about the corporate notebooks (the type that’s given out during events) and boring BIC pens that we’ve been using…

I’ve been put in charge of procuring our office supplies instead.

SpongeBob And Patrick Yay
Source: SpongeBob SquarePants | giphy

The only guideline which the editor gave was: keep it minimalist (nothing fancy) and don’t go over the budget.

Well… if it’s the minimalist aesthetic that we’re going for, then my best bet is probably MUJI.

But as aesthetically pleasing as MUJI’s stuff is, they’re usually a little pricey.

So… can I find suitable alternatives for a fraction of the price?

Let’s find out!


TL;DR: Is MUJI Really Worth The Money?

It really depends on what you’re planning to get.

This is what I decided while looking for office supplies and stationery:

ProductsWhere should you get it from?Price
Tape DispenserTaobao~S$1.90
NotebookMUJI, IUIGA, Taobao
(depends on budget)
S$0.50 - S$5.90
StaplerIUIGAS$11.90
Acrylic ContainersMUJIS$39
Aroma DiffuserIUIGAS$39.90

Tape Dispenser

The first thing I decided to get is a tape dispenser.

If you’re wondering why it’s because all the tape in the office is currently on the Seedly Reads editor’s table.

And it looks like this:

Rolls of Tape on Seedly Editor's Table
Pictured above: Imagine the hassle I go through every time I need tape. Ugh.

It’s a HUGE hassle for me because every time I need tape, I need to go to his table.

Then I need to painstakingly find the end of the tape (worse if somebody doesn’t cut it neatly and leaves a thin trail of tape, which you need to remove before you can get a proper width of tape).

Pull out a length I need.

And then use a pair of scissors to cut some.

SO. MUCH. WORK.

Since I can choose something functional AND nice, here’s the MUJI one which I have in mind:

MUJI ABS Resin Tape Dispenser
Source: MUJI

Simple, clean, and best of all, it’s weighted.

So that means I can easily pull and tear off a length of tape with just one hand.

But in the interest of keeping my expenditure low, I decided to look around the internet to see if there are any similar options, which are more affordable.

.

.

.

I’m going to address the elephant in the room now.

Mention ‘MUJI’ and ‘affordable’, and most Singaporeans will probably think of IUIGA.

A homegrown brand which works directly with Original Design Manufacturers to offer consumers products of similar make and quality to those offered by other well-known brands.

To be fair, this is the IUIGA tape dispenser I found:

IUIGA Erika Tape Dispenser
Source: IUIGA

There ARE subtle differences between both.

However, I’ll have to admit that they do look pretty similar.

I’m not gonna comment on the whole MUJI and IUIGA lawsuit saga.

But what I do appreciate is being able to purchase an item as close to cost as possible, especially since IUIGA shows you exactly what goes into the price of the product.

IUIGA Erika Tape Cost Breakdown
Source: IUIGA

With this in mind, I decided to support local and use IUIGA as my next point of comparison.

And for the sake of finding the cheapest deal possible, I’ll also be using Taobao as the baseline.

Here’s what I found for tape dispensers:

Stores (Online/ Physical)Price
MUJI ABS Resin Tape DispenserS$11.90
IUIGA ABS Resin Erika Tape DispenserS$4.90
Taobao~S$1.90

Which Tape Dispenser Will I Get?

As long as it’s cheap and it does the job, then that’s the one that I’ll pick.

In this case, I’ll just get the cheapest one from Taobao.

Notebook

FINALLY.

A chance to get nice notebooks to write on.

MUJI Slim A5 Notebook
Source: MUJI

Despite us being a tech company and the fact that Seedly Reads is a digital publication, a lot of great ideas and plans are actually detailed on the humble notebook.

I personally have a stack of notebooks which contain tonnes of scribbles and musings.

Here’re the options I found:

Stores (Online/ Physical)Price
MUJI Slim A5 NotebookS$5.90
IUIGA Eco-friendly A5 NotebookS$2.90
Taobao~S$0.50

Which Notebook Will I Get?

I have a MUJI notebook for personal use so I know that they’re nice to write on.

Personally, I’ve never tried IUIGA’s notebooks so I can’t comment.

To solve this, I decided to get a mix.

The MUJI ones for me and the team.

And the IUIGA ones for the editor, since he’s always saying, “Paper is paper, what… all the same.”

(Editor’s note: How can dis be allow?)

But if the price is my only consideration, then I guess Taobao is a no-brainer.

Stapler

For this piece of stationery, I decided to pick one from IUIGA instead.

This is the one which caught my eye:

IUIGA One Touch Effortless Stapler
Source: IUIGA

I tried searching for a similar one on MUJI, and the closest one which I could find was this:

MUJI White Stapler
Source: MUJI

It’s not quite the same as MUJI’s offering since it’s a portable stapler.

Whereas IUIGA’s is a more office-friendly (read: heavy-duty) option.

Stores (Online/ Physical)Price
MUJINot available
IUIGA One-touch Effortless StaplerS$11.90
Taobao~S$4.87

Which Stapler Will I Get?

Definitely the Taobao one.

Acrylic Containers

We don’t have any pen holders so our pens are all over the table.

To solve this, I decided to look at acrylic containers.

muji acrylic container
Source: MUJI

Back when acrylic containers were trending, suppliers all over the world were producing them everywhere.

Especially on Taobao, all in the name of #aesthetics.

However, I’ll probably stick with MUJI’s containers as their quality control is really commendable.

No matter when or where I buy an acrylic container to add more storage, I will always be able to stack them firmly on top of each other.

Note: I’ve bought a couple of IUIGA containers before and they don’t stack nearly as neatly as the one from MUJI.

Stores (Online/ Physical)Price
MUJIS$39
IUIGAS$26.90
Taobao~S$15

Which Acrylic Container Will I Get?

MUJI for the win.

Aroma Diffuser

This isn’t exactly stationery. But with all the money I saved…

I should be able to get one to make the office environment a little nicer.

If you were to ask me who makes the nicest-looking aroma diffuser in the market, once again, I’d say that it’s MUJI:

MUJI Aroma Diffuser
Source: MUJI

FYI: if you do a quick search for aroma diffusers, you’ll notice that there are TONS of products out there which resemble MUJI’s aroma diffuser.

It’s like everyone has completely no originality at all.

But hey, it’s simple, sleek, and matches easily with whatever aesthetics your home or office might be.

To be honest, I don’t particularly care that the aroma diffuser uses “ultrasonic waves to vapourise water” according to MUJI’s website  — sounds like something that was lifted from the lyrics of Muse’s Supermassive Black Hole.

As long as it looks good and works, then considered me sold.

Here is how the MUJI aroma diffuser stacks up against other similar variations:

Stores (Online/ Physical)Price
MUJI Large Aroma DiffuserS$139
IUIGA Ultrasonic Aroma Mist DiffuserS$39.90
Taobao ~S$12.67

Which Aroma Diffuser Will I Get?

I bought an LED lamp off Taobao before and it only worked for a couple of days before dying on me.

Since this is an electronic device and I don’t want to spend so much on the MUJI version, I’ll err on the safe side and go for the mid-priced option by IUIGA.


So… Is MUJI Worth It? What About Alternatives Like IUIGA or Taobao?

If you’ve ever used anything from MUJI, it’s hard to find the same promise of quality and aesthetics in other brands.

That aside, IUIGA is a brand that’s coming into its own and its clear from their inventory that they have products, which they manufacture themselves.

Like their mini travel iron (S$34.90) for example. That’s a product which I really like.

Depending on your budget, needs, as well as the type of product in question.

It’s always good to have more choices as a consumer.

Ok, back to work…

Do you think it’s worth splurging on MUJI products or would you just go for a cheaper alternative? Let us know in the comments section!

About Cherie Tan
Turning finance into boba-sized pieces. One iced milk boba tea, please!
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