The perfectly triangular snow-capped peak of Fujiyama, blooming sakura, colorful silk kimono, Tokyo skyscrapers, sushi, and sake are perhaps the very first associations that come to your mind when somebody mentions Japan. In the era of globalization and a mixture of cultures and traditions, Japanese people have successfully maintained their heritage. Moreover, Japanese interior design is gaining popularity not only in Japan but spreads across the world.
What features and characteristics allowed the Japanese interior to become one of the most famous ones? What secret does it hide?
Japan has been an isolated country for a very long time. Japanese culture developed for several centuries, without receiving external tributaries. As a result, an amazing unique world of images and forms was created, where you can observe the history, daily life, faith, and philosophy.
The country's isolation was largely determined by the fact that Japan is an island. And it is the isolation factor that determined the character of the Japanese style - contemplative and aspiring the beauty of nature. That distinctive character can be observed not only in art but also in interior design.
Everything in Japan strives for perfection and skillful execution. Even the most basic, common to us actions such as making tea or cutting fish in the land of the rising sun is given more attention and turned into a tea ceremony or the art of cutting fish – Hōchōdō. Japanese people consider these two basic actions as forms of art similarly to painting or music. Since cutting fish and making tea are perfected by the master. Japanese turn ordinary things into a whole new art form and respect masters of these unique to us art forms.
Living in an apartment in the Japanese style means living following Japanese philosophy and bringing the special meaning to every interior item. Indeed, even ideal forms corresponding to the principles of asymmetry, simplicity, and freedom can mean nothing if there is a void hidden behind them.
Japanese design is based on a concept of minimalism and high functionality. If you look at the Japanese dwelling of past centuries, you'll see modularity and variability.
The Japanese style brings its perspective to minimalism, in which the interaction of different decor items and furnishings allows you to create an atmosphere of serenity.
For people who grew up in foreign houses, the Japanese style might surprise you and sometimes even shock with a level of simplicity on the verge of asceticism and a minimum of decor, laconism, and inclines toward natural materials and direct imitation of nature.
The Japanese interior style is depersonalized, you will not find many pictures of relatives, friends, and acquaintances, some trinkets, needlework or souvenirs - nothing personal or individual in the interior. But behind all this a discreet, strict beauty is seen, and the Japanese style itself is filled with philosophical meaning. It is simple and at the same time harmonious, like mother nature itself. This style is for those who are alien to fuss, who value reflection and contemplation.
The interior in the Japanese style is a special philosophy, a way to know yourself, get closer to nature and dissolve in it. That is why the design in the Japanese style denies the pretentiousness of the situation, avoids excesses and artificial materials.
Minimalism is the main and fundamental rule that is respected in everything related to the interior. No superfluous things, excesses - only necessary and useful furniture and all other things you use in your everyday life. Most things are hidden in built-in wardrobes or closed shelves painted to match the walls - so they are almost indistinguishable. That is why space in Japanese styled interior seems completely uncluttered.
2. The power of emptiness
Japanese interior is a space with a minimum amount of furniture. There is a lot of air and energy that circulates freely, which, according to Japanese tradition, is vital. You often don't see common to us sofas or chairs. They sit and sleep on the floors.
3. The color palette
No bright, flashy colors. The Japanese style is a cloudless sky, seafoam and autumn foliage, sakura blossom, full moon, and coastal stones. The predominant shades are natural, pastel: beige, milky, pearl, dark brown, sand, cream. Often there are interiors, designed in contrasting, black and white colors. Red and green colors are used extremely rarely.
4. Unity with nature
In a traditional Japanese country house, nature is a direct continuation of a building and complements the interior, which is why the sliding doors open onto the terrace. While decorating an apartment, the Japanese give an exceptional preference to natural materials, using wood instead of stone. Instead of massive walls - light partitions or screens made of bamboo or rice paper. The flooring is wooden, the same reliable and durable bamboo, on the walls, wooden panels. Curtains are exclusively made out of natural materials such as linen or silk.
Japanese furniture attracts people with its simplicity, lightness, and grace, as well as mobility. The furniture is low, smooth, extremely non-invasive as if polished with water from a mountain source.
Since the whole Japanese-styled furniture is designed specifically for a seated person, it includes the simplest things such as tables, chairs, beds. All Japanese furniture is low but comfortable.
Furniture and accessories in the Japanese style are made exclusively from natural materials: wool, silk, cotton.
The color palette of furniture ranges from dark chocolate, which can organically combine aluminum and frosted glass, creating a light and concise composition of light, milky tones that allow it to dissolve in the space.
In a traditional Japanese house, you often see a small fireplace in the middle of the living room surrounded by pillows for seating and a low table. Many Japanese houses still preserve the traditions to this day.
Nowadays, furniture is made out of antique wood, also known as old wood, including teak, which is especially popular because it has an excellent margin of safety. It is used as a material for tables, frames, benches, screens, and is also used in the decor of tables, beds, chests of drawers, lamps, cabinets, and shelves.
In the Japanese interior, accessories are in the background, but they are mandatory, without them the design is imperfect. There should not be many. The Japanese people usually have a shelf, where they place a vase, casket, ceramic dishes, elegant porcelain, or one painting, which is emphasized. According to the Japanese, hanging several pictures on one wall at once is tantamount to listening to several songs at once. The decor can be bamboo rugs, drawings on silk, decorated with hieroglyphics bedspreads, Buddha figurines, fans, scrolls with wise sayings.
(Photo via: https://www.digsdigs.com/japanese-living-room-decor/)
Lighting in Japanese interior is usually dim. You will never see blinding bright lightning than is common for Americans. Reminiscent of the moonlight, it is soft, with a rich play of light and shadows. Halftones relieve nervousness and stress, immersed in a trance. Most often, sconces and floor lamps are used as lighting devices. Lampshades for lamps and chandeliers are made of wood, parchment, natural silk, much less often - porcelain or glass.
The Japanese-style interior is a true designer ode in honor of the perfection of simplicity and functionality. The Japanese style is characterized by a certain incompleteness, a mystery. In such an interior, everyone can find something of their own, interpret these or those images in completely different ways. The philosophy of the Japanese interior can be described as “beauty in the small”, without poshness, flashy colors and unnecessary details.
In our conditions, it is not so easy to recreate an authentic Japanese interior, but some elements can be noted and used in the design of your apartment. Indeed, even psychologists note that an apartment or house decorated in a Japanese style gives a feeling of peace and helps to leave all the problems and troubles of the "big world", to feel calm and relaxed in a cozy atmosphere. Isn't it great?