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U.S. Shoppers Can Access Muji's Asian Minimalism on the Web

November 30, 2000|CANDACE A. WEDLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Muji, which means "no brand" in Japanese, is a retailer known for its minimalist fashions, office accessories, furniture and other items. The Tokyo-based chain first opened in the city's fashionable Aoyama district in 1983; currently there are about 240 retail shops located throughout Japan, as well 30 in France and England. Designs include red lacquered trays and bowls and a variety of aluminum products ranging from notebook binders to shelving, as well as wooden CD holders.

While there are no stores in the U.S. yet, the company launched its first U.S. Web site last holiday season and has now established an ongoing site offering a limited line at http://www.Mujionline.com. A spokesperson for the retailer did allow, however, that plans are afoot to open stores in the U.S. within the next couple of years.

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If you're planning to purchase furniture on the Internet, you might do some homework before plunking down good money for a sofa. One source is the recently released paperback "Shopping for Furniture on the Internet" (Linden Publishing, $12.95) by Leonard Bruce Lewin.

Lewin, a resident of Sacramento, worked in the furniture industry for more than 30 years as a factory representative for Drexel Heritage Furniture. His latest book (in 1998, Linden Press released his paperback "Shopping for Furniture: A Consumer's Guide") offers tips on what to look for in an Internet site, how to save money, the various brands available and what questions absolutely need to be asked before you buy furniture online.

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Money.

Did we get your attention? Good, because this is good news for designers from the city of Los Angeles.

The city's Cultural Affairs Department has expanded its performing and visual arts fellowship program to include individuals working in all forms of design such as architectural, landscape, interior, furniture, environmental, industrial, product, graphic and fashion. Based solely on merit, the COLA Fellowships in design will make awards of $10,000 to individuals demonstrating a minimum 15-year active production track record.

Applications are available starting today. To request an application (deadline is Jan. 31), contact the Cultural Affairs Department at (213) 473-8590 or check out the Web site at http://www.culturela.org. For a limited time, you can receive an application by mail by sending a self-addressed, $2-stamped 9-by-12-inch envelope to Cultural Affairs Department Grants Division, Attn. Design Application, 433 S. Spring St., 10th floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013.

Candace A. Wedlan is at candace.wedlan@latimes.com.

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