Umei Boutique’s Japanese Housewares

(Courtesy Ūmei Boutique)

Local fans of Japanese home goods can now find their favorite pieces without taking a trip overseas. Tucked within a quiet intersection just north of the North Loop in Minneapolis, the new Ūmei Boutique showcases a collection of Japanese housewares and décor alongside products culled from all over the globe.

The sunny, charming storefront is located next door to Veronique Wantz Gallery, an independent gallery specializing in contemporary fine art from emerging and established local and international artists. Next on the block is Spring Finn & Co., which features handcrafted leather goods by designer Talin Spring as well as accessories, textiles, and apparel collected from her world travels. Across the street is the GlassArt Design showroom, which creates unique architectural glass and houses one of the largest selections of custom glass products in the Midwest.

Japaense cups and spoons by Umei Boutique sitting on a table.
(Courtesy Ūmei Boutique)

Ūmei—pronounced “you-may,” Japanese for “dream”—was founded by Susan Brouillette, a Mattel Inc. executive whose job led her to spend a lot of time in Japan. She got hooked on Japanese goods and would bring home treasures from her travels. When she opened the store, she selected items, many from Japan, that emphasize handcrafted, simple, beautiful design—like the knit-texture mugs pictured. Goods include ceramic tableware and vessels in a traditional Japanese blue-and-white palette, linen towels and napkins, silk throw pillows, and modern brass home objects from ancient Japanese brass foundry, Futagami. A rainbow-hued row of glasses from Italy and silk velvet pillows from Turkey bring a colorful, international punch to the selection. “I think they make good friends with the clean lines of the Japanese pieces,” notes Brouillette. The store also carries several locally made products, including Michele and Eric Vevang’s hand-carved wooden bowls and Liz Pechacek’s striped ceramic cups.

With the arrival of Ūmei, the intersection of North Fifth Street and North 10th Avenue has become one of the Twin Cities’ newest retail destinations for design with an international flair.

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