Splendor and grass in small packages

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Splendor and grass in small packages

Visit this shop just before it opens and you’ll see a knot of curious people waiting to get inside.
Watch them once they’ve entered and you’ll see them spending 10, 20, even 30 minutes gazing at one simple item, such as a a card designed to be hung as a mobile, a love letter secreted in a tiny capsule or a special notebook. Then they’ll move over to a mini field of grass growing in a plastic cup. The shop’s designer/director, Bae Su-yel, will come over and explain to them how to care for the little lawn.
Why such interest in offbeat stationery goods? Simple. Practically nothing here is mass-produced. Nearly everything in the shop is designed in-house.
The shop’s name, Mmmg, stands for “Millimeter/Milligram.” The diminutive name accords with the shop’s raison d’etre: offering small things full of delightful surprises. “So many products these days are factory produced, but we believe that the small things in life are still important,” Mr. Bae says. “We wanted to create a space designed for people ― not products; a place where people can feel comfortable.”
On the store’s red brick shelves are hardbound notebooks (about 30,000 won, or $25), plastic-covered notebooks (6,000 won-10,000 won) and the grass pots (6,000 won). On a table are distinctly designed stickers (1,000-1,200 won) with basic messages such as “No Smoking,” and blank cards (1,900 won).
Mr. Bae picks up a card with two holes in it. “You see? You can read the message to your friend and through the holes see how he reacts.”
Everything in the store is created by its 12 employees, except for the multilens Lomo cameras (77,000 won) and retro clocks (about 120,000 won) from Hong Kong and Germany. The shop has a Web site, www.mmmg.net, where the curious praise or slam what’s new.

by Ines Cho
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