New Online Store Built Around Small Space Living
When we were putting together the first LifeEdited Apartment, we scoured countless stores looking for housewares that would perfectly fit into the space. We were looking for necessary things, compact things, classic things and, on occasion, offbeat things, which led to some failed experiments with sporks. The search was sort of a pain in the butt. We spent a lot of time sifting through retail haystacks looking for those few small space appropriate houseware needles.
A new online store called Mijlo (pronounced my-lo) is trying to save the small-space dweller and design aficionado some time. They have created a store focused on housewares–and eventually, other goods–that work well in the compact home.
We shot Mijlo founder Daniel Eckler a few questions via email about the store, how it came to be and where he plans to take it.
David Frieldander: What inspired you to start the Miljlo small space living store?
Daniel Eckler: I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life developing digital products to help people appreciate beauty and be more creative, and I’ve had a great time doing it, but I’ve also always wanted to do something tangible. What motivates me most is the emotional connection to objects, and their ability to bring joy to people–you can do this on screens, but it’s a different and more compelling experience to me with objects.
I’ve always loved the idea of design that helps people, especially design with difficult constraints. Even as a kid, I remember going to IKEA and being fascinated with the small home design/merchandising. Later, as an adult I discovered MUJI in New York, then soon after again in Tokyo, while living in 150 sq feet with two friends for a month. This solidified my love for small spaces.
I was even more interested in why I felt lonely after my friends left, especially as someone who enjoys their personal time. There’s a great quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it”–after this experience, I was especially interested in voluntary simplicity, collaborative consumption, and started to deepen my exploration of urban design, product design, interior design, and architecture.
I realized that besides MUJI, there are no big retailers focused on helping people in small spaces live well. With urban areas becoming more dense every year, the average home-size is shrinking, and I think there are going to be a lot of people living in small homes needing solutions that exist in the market today, but kind of at the fringes. I want to do everything I can to make sure these people live just as comfortably as if they were in a big space, and more importantly start to appreciate the benefits of living with less.
DF: How did you select your products?
DE: Because we’re a start-up, we had to focus our attention in a particular category, and for us, the most sensible choice at the beginning was small housewares. I can’t wait until we stock murphy beds and other “large” small space furniture, but in the meantime, I want to curate the best offering of small housewares that are suitable for small spaces.
Small space home decor obviously means modular, multi-functional, and small pieces, but I think it’s just as important to seek simple/quality/neutral pieces that complement each-other and that will last a long time. We’re inspired primarily by Danish and Japanese design, in white/grey/beige with splashes of color and personality throughout the collection.
DF: What is your favorite product and why?
DE: The Mr and Mrs. Tea Towels from Ferm Living are my favorite products currently in our collection [pictured below]. My visual sensibilities are influenced mostly by minimalism, but also by my mom who was a quirky Dutch homemaker that spent her days sculpting and painting strange characters that look similar to the ones printed on these towels.
I really like the simplicity and warmth that both of these prints exhibit, and I’m especially interesting in humanizing design, so I love the idea of a set of tea towels that are a married couple.
DF: What does Mijlo mean?
DE: Bringing my Dutch heritage into the company was really important to me. My mom’s family in Holland has been running an auction house specializing in home decor for generations. The Netherlands is the most densely populated country in the EU, and Amsterdam is the cycling capital of the world. All of these features are natural influences for MIJLO and our mission.
I was looking for a Dutch name that would be a fit for the company. I was considering KIKO (which my mom wanted to name me), but there is a large cosmetics brand with the same name. I also like YOPI (my uncle’s name), but that is taken by a Dutch company with a similar name. I looked around for other names that had the same spirit as those–MILO is a popular name in Holland, and it resonated with me as soon as I found it. We added the J because IJ replaces Y in Dutch. De Stijl, Rijks Museum, etc.
DF: Where do you see yourself taking the store?
DE: Our goal for now is to help as many people in small spaces live simple and live well, with a collection of well-designed, quality goods. This goal actually doesn’t start with selling products. It starts with education. I believe deeply that living a simple life, in a simple home, with simple things, can dramatically increase people’s quality of life. A lot of people don’t agree with that, so it’s our job to show them why we think that way, and hopefully encourage them to give it a try. As long as we’re engaged in exposing people to the benefits of living simply, we’re doing our job, and hopefully we will sell a few (or a bunch of) products along the way.
DF: Do you live in a small place yourself?
DE: I’m currently living in a medium sized house with my father, but I spend 90% of my time at home in less than 250 square feet, which includes my bedroom, office, closet, and bathroom.
Check out the Mijlo store yourself.