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The latest product of Japan’s tiny house obsession is the Muji Hut, just unveiled at Tokyo Design Week. In collaboration with top architects and designers — Konstantin Grcic, Jasper Morrison, and Naoto Fukasawa — Japanese bigbox retailer Muji has created a trio of diminutive prefab huts. They’re an example of how contemporary designers and architects are reinventing the prefab house, once considered cheap, as part of a larger effort to make shelter more affordable and environmentally sustainable.
With just enough space and amenities needed for a low-key getaway, these huts are not for the claustrophobic or high-maintenance. But they’re ideal for minimalists — priced starting at $25,000 a pop, the huts can be easily installed nearly anywhere, from forests to riverbanks, offering a cozy “escape from the hustle and bustle of the city,” as Muji puts it on its website, where they’ll be available for purchase starting in 2017.
Each has a sleek design made of one dominant material — wood, aluminum, or cork. Fukasawa’s Wood Hut features floor-to-ceiling glass windows, a wood stove, a tub, cot, and kitchenette. Morrison’s Cork Hut is a boxy structure on a wooden platform, meant as an easily assembled vacation home. Grcic’s Aluminum Hut, with fold-out metal awnings, looks almost like a large storage container or modernist trailer home.
The huts look cute from the outside, but the reality of living in these walk-in-closet sized spaces might, well, suck, as one Portlandia episode illustrates, featuring a man whose toilet doubles as his desk chair. Maybe the tiny house trend won’t kill the McMansion market, after all. If you like these huts but want to save $24,500 on an equally small space, you could always go the route of converting a steel storage container into a studio.
Muji Huts will be available for purchase starting in 2017.
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