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Japanese homeware retailer Muji is introducing a furniture subscription service as working from home becomes the new normal after months of the coronavirus pandemic. Launching this Friday (July 17), consumers in Japan will be able to rent furniture and interior items at selected stores through monthly or annual subscription plans. The retailer is scheduled to expand the rental service to more locations in the near future.
Muji’s furniture rentals, which will be available from July 17 selected stores in major Japanese cities including Muji Ginza and Muji Grand Front Osaka, are offered through various subscription sets. Starting from US$7.50 per month, consumers can choose between “sleep”, “work” and “relax” ensembles of furniture and interior decor, or opt for annual subscriptions ranging from one to four years.
In a statement, the company says that the initiative, which is launched under its interior design brand Idée, “aims to solve various problems” relating to societal and environmental issues, and that this solution follows the brand’s belief in “use rather than possession”.
In addition to the subscription service, Muji is offering customers with free online home consultations from over 100 of the company’s interior advisors across 45 stores in the country. It no doubt caters to its growing base of customers who are looking to redecorate their homes and set up a home office as staying indoors becomes the norm in the age of coronavirus.
While Japan is notorious for its intense working culture, the coronavirus has shifted remote work into the mainstream, and 70% of its workforce now wish to continue working from home, citing relieving stress from commuting and being able to live at further-away locations with cheaper rent as the main reasons.
Other home furnishing providers are launching similar initiatives, such as IKEA, who announced that it will begin trials of furniture rentals across 30 markets over the course of this year to capitalise on not only the rising work-from-home culture, but the growing demand for environmentally-friendly options.
In a survey, IKEA said that over 90% of its customers said that they wish to make their spending habits more sustainable by opting for rental, resale or recycled options. To that end, IKEA also recently debuted a “Home of Tomorrow” concept store fitted with eco-friendly design solutions, from micro-gardens to composting stations.
The furnishing giant says that it is more important now than ever before to ensure a healthy and green home environment, as most individuals are now staying far more time indoors.
Rental solutions have grown in popularity over the past years, but it has been stationed more firmly within the fashion industry, where subscription platforms such as Rebag have become go-tos for conscious consumers. Even mainstream labels such as luxury dress brand Diane von Furstenberg to fast fashion giant H&M have introduced rental services to retain customers.
Lead image courtesy of Muji.