Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My treasure box

↑ this is where I stash all my bento accessories
Just like many bento enthusiasts, I like to collect bento accessories that I come across here and there. Unfortunately, they all come in irregular shapes and sizes.

Under normal circumstances, I would probably just rush to any MUJI (short form of Mujirushi Ryōhin or 無印良品) store to get their PET storage solutions and flexible storage dividers.

If you are reading this in Europe, chances are high that there is at least 1 MUJI store in your country. They are available in UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Italy and even Turkey and Poland. I simply love the simplicity and functionality of their clever designs.
Here is the link for MUJI: MUJI

Strangely they are not available in the Netherlands and Belgium. Instead, there is HEMA here. It stands for Hollandsche Eenheidsprijzen Maatschappij Amsterdam, which literally means the Dutch Company of Fair Prices Amsterdam. Sounds rather complicated, but its one of the Netherlands' oldest shop chains that sells almost everything under the sun at a fair price. 

During my days studying at the Design Academy Eindhoven, I was given a chance to visit the HEMA headquarters as part of a school excursion. We were encouraged to ask the PR and Marketing staff of HEMA as many questions as we like. Strangely enough, the HEMA folks seemed to think that HEMA is going into the direction of MUJI but at the same time couldn't concretely grasp the true essence of what MUJI is about when prompted. As for me, I was already silently giggling to myself (because I was too polite) at the mention of "HEMA being similar to MUJI". hahaha, no way man, how can these 2 stores ever be similar!! To make a comparision between this 2 stores is so horrible, that its almost vulgar. 

MUJI will never ever use such strong colours like magenta and have such loud prints on their products!! It was quite a sight because I saw my Japanese classmates trying very hard not to crinch, saw my other asian classmates obviously crinching in disgust, saw my German/French/British classmates having doubtful expressions. I begin to pity the PR and Marketing department of HEMA a little for the embarrasements we might have caused.

I've decided to put a link for HEMA here so that you can make a comparision as well.

Don't get me wrong or anything like that. I don't hate HEMA, in fact I think the stuff in HEMA are pretty decent in their own ways, its just that it felt sooooo wrong for the staff to actually put themselves along the lines of MUJI. 

That said, admittedly sometimes I still go to HEMA for basic loud colour stuffs and their famous rookworst (smoked sausages). One day, I was loitering round their stationery department and randomly come across this A4 size storage boxes, carelessly tucked in a little forgotten corner. Fantastic! Maybe HEMA is trying real hard afterall, its just that its going to take a long time before all their staff can fully grasp the real MUJI concept :)


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About Bento Cat

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Amsterdam, Netherlands
I'm Shanna and I enjoy bento making a lot. I'm also a wife, daughter,sister,a full-time student, previous fashion and product designer, nerd and super foodie all rolled into one. With Adventures of Bento Cat, I hope to document the daily happenings of my life through Bentos filled with Tender Loving Care and more! I can be contacted at bentokato@gmail.com
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