MUJI Lulls You to Sleep With Its Minimalistic New App

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MUJI, Japan’s super successful minimalistic “brandless-brand” has recently released a new app, MUJI to Sleep. It boasts a series of natural sounds to help induce a sound slumber, anytime, anywhere. The app is aesthetically awesome, free, boasts a tight design, and last but certainly not least, aids in perpetuating MUJI’s brand values. Other brands take note: this is how you do digital.

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The beginnings of MUJI date back to the early 1980’s, when it served as a generic supermarket brand. Since then the company has grown into a well-respected global name, encompassing a huge variety of goods, everything from housewares to fashion. “Muji” is short for “Mujirushi Ryohin” or “brandless quality goods.”

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If you’re familiar with MUJI then you can see the irony in this; MUJI’s “brandless” has become quite the well-known brand. In recent years they’ve expanded out of Asia and into European and North American markets, having seduced design-centric crowds, their wares even sold in MoMA. MUJI to Sleep seeks to continue the brand’s successful trend of function meets natural simplicity.

 

In an ever-increasing digital world, it’s hard to keep electronics out of the bed, even when we know we’re not supposed to. But MUJI’s sleep app defies this logic, using the sounds of nature on your smartphone or tablet to make drifting off easier. It’s a very niche app, thus the interface and design is refreshingly simple and straightforward. You swipe through six calming sounds of nature: seaside waves, tweeting birds, kindling fire, a stream, forest, and waterfall.

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Every sound was recorded on-location, in Japan, using head-shaped binaural microphones to closely duplicate the experience of actually being within the setting. This technique creates an audio frequency gap between the left and right ear that syncs with the user’s brainwave cycle to encourage sleep. Each sound can be set to a timer of 30, 60, or 90 minutes.

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This app couldn’t fit any better within the MUJI family. The brand has risen to popularity precisely because of its refined products and tidy stores, which ultimately offer a bastion of calm. MUJI to Sleep reinforces this association with its minimalistic design and simple, yet functional use. The app is clearly a brand-builder, but doubles as a product-seller too.

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Accompanying MUJI to Sleep is a fantastic microsite that demonstrates the app’s use when paired with one of the company’s most popular products, the Well-Fitted Neck Cushion. The app appears to have been created to supplement the cushion’s effectiveness (and that of other other MUJI products too). The two compliment each other so well that you feel like you can’t own one without the other, effectively creating need and consequently moving product off the shelves.

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This isn’t MUJI’s first foray into the digital; the company has successfully released other apps that work congruent to their physical offerings. It’s an effective means of digital advertising and marketing—I don’t feel like I’m being worked over by the brand as they’re offering me functional experiences to enhance my living.

“MUJI to Sleep” is available now for both iOS and Android devices. Sweet dreams and happy snoozing.

Nick Partyka

August 25, 2014 / By

Instagram Made Me A Better Documentarian

Bobby Solomon Instagram

Instagram is a funny beast. Like most things people have a lot of opinions about and for me personally I’m an avid user. To me it does two things:

1) Allows me to keep a record of my life.
2) Gives me a way to be creative in a relatively simple way.

Being able to document my experiences and share them with friends/strangers/whomever is fun to me. Making aesthetically pleasing photos is certainly part of it but it’s also exactly how I perceive the world. I love bright colors, I love balance, I love the way light fills a space or gives depth to an object. These are also principles which I use in my day-to-day career as a designer.

It’s also a “cheap” way for me to create something with my busy life. Being able to take a few minutes out of my day to share something beautiful or clever is a simple act that brings me joy. A lot of people get caught up in what other folks are doing with Instagram but that’s a mistake. Like anything in life, go down your own path and don’t look back. If someone is annoyed by my food photos or a selfie or more photos of dogs, oh well, they can unfollow.

Related, Jeffrey Kalmikoff has a great take on Instagram, that you should follow your interests, not the people you know. He also has a similar view on the “just do it” attitude I described above.

My Instagram feed is filled with content that amazes me. I feel inspired by and connected to things I care about. I’m constantly finding new content through the network effect built off of my interests—not my friendships: that’s what Facebook is for.

That being said, I did not change the way I share on Instagram. If you follow me, you’re getting a constant stream of pictures relating to my cats, my health, what I eat, weird things I find, and basically anything that compels me to point my phone and shoot. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t follow me, but hey…

Bobby Solomon

June 9, 2014 / By

5 Things Instagram Should Change For A Better User Experience

5 Things Instagram Should Change For A Better User Experience

I tend to throw my random thoughts on Twitter a lot. Sometimes it’s a release for my brain, other times it’s to incite a conversation. Last week I mentioned that “Instagram could really use an in-app browser” which spurred a deluge of replies with other features that folks would love to see. So here are some of the suggestions that I thought made a lot of sense with a few of my thoughts.

 

Instagram - In App Browsing When I wrote this I was thinking specifically of the links you see on people’s profiles and how annoying it is that I have to leave the app to view them. From a product perspective you’d think the Instagram team would want to keep you in the experience no matter what but this inability defies that logic. In my mind an in-app browser, much like you use in Twitter or Paper, would fit the bill. It starts to create a tiny ecosystem from which you can discover new things. But my guess would be that there’s a larger issue when it comes to…

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Bobby Solomon

April 30, 2014 / By

LEBLOX Is Like 3D Printing and Minecraft In One

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The world of 3D printing is starting to become more commonplace, becoming more a part of our day-to-day lives. There’s still a strong learning curve to the process though, with a difficulty to create your own objects. That gap is starting to narrow with the introduction of LEBLOX, an app that allows you to create these amazingly detailed sculptures. What’s better is that you can choose to have LEBLOX print out your creation and send it to you, which to me is the really incredible part.

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Bobby Solomon

March 20, 2014 / By

app.itize.us Curates The Most Well Designed Apps

If you’re in need of some inspiration for your app or mobile site check out app.itize.us, a curated list of beautifully designed apps. The site updates quite a few times a day so it’s safe to say it’s reliable to bookmark for a fresh look at what’s going on in digital design.

app.itize.us Curates The Most Well Designed Apps

Bobby Solomon

March 19, 2014 / By

Time For The News: Yahoo News Digest

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I did not get a news app until last week when a friend told me that the Yahoo News Digest deliberately makes it so you don’t have to constantly check for news: they rake through everything and only give you the news you need to know. Instead of offering you everything, they are only offering you some things, making the act of visiting the app quick and impactful. It doesn’t waste your time nor do you have to dig: it gives you what you want and can even tell you when to look at it. It’s very brilliantly executed too, despite Yahoo!’s godawful new logo.

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KYLE FITZPATRICK

March 3, 2014 / By

Want, an app that offers daily temptation

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A lot people still use Svpply—and I was using it for a while. When it came out it was a one-of-a-kind, well designed way to track things that you would like to purchase and show off what you’ve already purchased: it was beloved by all. It’s a means to log what you are into at a certain time and helps in cataloguing trends that are quickly passing at the hand of the Internet. I eventually stopped using it, though. There was no reason: I just stopped. I’m not sure if it got old or I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted but I stopped using it. Perhaps the searching was too annoying? I don’t know.

I re-downloaded the app a few months ago and somehow found myself onto a new app that they made, a spinoff from the original called Want By Svpply. I ultimately deleted Svpply again since I was forgetting to use it—but I found myself on Want every day. What is Want then? It’s a daily catalogue delivered to you in a clean, interesting, very Svpply way that uses your previously Wanted items to select suggestions for you. If you are overwhelmed by the search of Svpply, Want does the work for you by offering suggestions.

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KYLE FITZPATRICK

January 31, 2014 / By

Instagram takes aim at Snapchat with new Instagram Direct feature

Instagram takes aim at Snapchat with new Instagram Direct feature

This morning, Instagram added a new feature they’re calling Direct, which allows you to send Instagrams to a specific person or persons.

There are, however, moments in our lives that we want to share, but that will be the most relevant only to a smaller group of people—an inside joke between friends captured on the go, a special family moment or even just one more photo of your new puppy. Instagram Direct helps you share these moments.

This feels a lot a fuck you to Snapchat, who Instagram owner’s Facebook offered $3 billion to buy their app, only to be turned down. A feature like this would have been in the works for a while though as it’s a brand new build of Instagram. Personally, I feel like the old man who wants the kids off his lawn with this feature. At 31 I can’t find any reason to use Snapchat, and if I want to send a certain person/persons a photo I’ll simply text it to them. It’s certainly possible that I’m not the audience for this feature, but it also seems like the Instagram product is getting more diluted as time goes by.

Bobby Solomon

December 12, 2013 / By

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