I always enjoy a good homeware and kitchen store, in every country that I visit. When I was researching about what to do on my trip to Seoul, I read about Jaju here and here. I learned that Jaju is one of Korea’s first lifestyle brands, and their goal is to offer affordable, simple and well-designed products to the everyday person. Some even refer to it as Korea’s version of Muji. These were reasons enough to spark my curiosity, so it was on the top of my list of things to do in Korea.
The flagship store is located in Sinsia-Dong, Garosu-gil Road. To get there, take the subway to Sinsia station (Line 3, Stop no.337).
Then come out of exit 8, and walk straight ahead for about 10 minutes, and Garosu-gil is on your left hand side.
For your reference, Jaju is located right next to the big coffee shop Coffee Smith.
I felt pretty happy the second that I walked in and saw that there were three floors of my favorite categories of items to explore.
The store is filled with light, and is a perfect backdrop for all their products.
First, I made my way to the basement level, which sells an impressive variety of tableware and cookware.
During this trip, I knew I wanted to bring back to items for my kitchen: the long-handled Korean spoons, and banchan dishes. Juju had a great selection of both:
I wished I had the luggage space to bring back the huge colorful bowls too, which I imagine would make mealtimes quite cheerful. Maybe next time?
I couldn’t resist these colorful banchan plates, and almost bought one in every color. Out of sheer willpower (and maturity?) I managed to restrain myself to just three. You might ask, ummm, how often do you eat banchan in your everyday life? To be honest, not that often! But I often eat foods that require sauces (like dumplings) … and I could theoretically use the plates to corral my jewelry and paperclips. Trust me. If there is a will, there is a way.
Next, onto the other floors! The Home Deco floor also had so many times that captured my interest, like the clocks and those lamps (especially the ones on the bottom right shelves). I love how most of Jaju’s designs are simple, yet with a colorful twist.
I also admired their bedding~ all neutral colors, which are my color of choice for sheets, duvet colors and blankets.
I took a photo of this sink island, because I want to remember that if I ever get to design my own bathroom, I want to make sure to have sink with generous space on the sides and top.
I also discovered that similar to Muji, Jaju also sells clear acrylic organizing pieces. I use the Muji versions throughout my home and office, and I basically have the entire collection catalogued into my brain. I knew that Muji did not have this large tray, which is something I’ve been looking for, for a long time, to organize my taller cosmetic bottles and jars.
One of the most delightful floors in Jaju is the children’s floor.
My overall impression was that every item looked sturdy and well-designed.
Most importantly, a lot of their items for kids were gender neutral~ with a selection of colors choices in addition to pink and blue.
I also really appreciated that Jaju had a range of reasonably priced party supplies, (which are not readily available in Taiwan~ the party decorations I’ve seen have mostly been sparkly, spangly and/ or with cartoon characters).
I also liked the color schemes Jaju has for their decorations ~cheerful and celebratory, but not overly cutesy. They would work at an office party, at your grandparent’s anniversary celebration dinner, at a child’s birthday party, or even a college graduation party.
After exploring the three floors, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed (with an elevated case of “the gimmes,” which can be only described as a irrational desire to buy the entire store) So, to prevent personal bankruptcy, I decided to get a cup of coffee next door and figure out what I really needed (I basically wanted the entire store) before buying anything.
One latte, and a walk up and down the rest of the street later, I decided on the following items: The acrylic storage box, some banchan dishes, small dessert forks, a set of Korean long handled spoons and chopsticks, a steel tray, a bath towel and a grey tote bag. All the items have been happily incorporated into my home, and I’m so pleased to have these well-made, and well-designed basics in my everyday life.
How does Jaju compare to Muji? One especially apparent difference was that unfortunately, I didn’t find the customer service to be especially good at Jaju. A lot of the items only had Korean labels, which is totally understandable because it’s a local Korean brand. However, the staff were fairly aloof. They didn’t greet customers when they came in, and when I asked for help about a product, (something like “is this available in a different size?) and all I got was a terse “no.” Then the staff member just left! I think at Muji the staff member usually suggests a different product, or is just generally more helpful. Also, while my items were carefully and nicely wrapped, the staff member who rang up my sale seemed really impatient and didn’t thank me for my purchase, which is of course standard practice in Muji.
I definitely think that Jaju has the potential to be a global brand. Their products are well designed, well made, and practical for everyday use. However, it would be helpful to have some English keywords written on the product tags, so at least we can read the information on our own. Another area of improvement is customer service. The store is lovely, the service experience, not so much. Again, it could have also been a language and cultural barrier issue, but this is definitely a growth area for Jaju.
Despite these little hiccups, I still highly recommend a visit to Jaju~ on the upside, you can freely browse the products to your heart’s content, and get lots of inspiration for your own home from the shop’s beautiful displays and interiors.
Information: Jaju Flagship Store 536-15 Sinsia-Dong (next to Coffee Smith) Seoul, Korea |Subway stop: Sinsia, Exit 8| Hours: 11am-10pm.