Japanese Interior Design and the Rise of Japandi

3 Min Read | By Leila Jones

Last Modified 13 July 2021   First Added 21 May 2021

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

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With Tokyo set to undergo a transformation as the home of The Games, the eyes of the world are on Japanese interior design. Last year, the original Athlete’s Village was unveiled. Located in the Harumi waterfront district of Tokyo, the village was constructed using sustainable timber. Join us as we delve more into Japanese interior design, and in particular, the rise of Japandi – a fusion of Japanese and Scandinavian elements.

The fundamental elements of Japanese design

To further explore Japanese design and the Japandi trend, we spoke to James Ashfield, Designer and Studio Director at luxury architecture and interior Design studio, Rigby&Rigby. He says:

Japanese design has a beautiful honesty with functional design.

The aesthetic is minimalist and lightweight, with never too much going on. In Japan, it’s believed that natural materials have their own soul, and that’s why wood is often a primary material used in design.

Zen is also a key theme. James Ashfield highlights Wabi-Sabi as a key part of the aesthetic. The term translates to ‘finding beauty in imperfection’, and Ashfield defines it as “elegance in the unfinished”. This could be as simple as placing an artwork off-centre on a wall, to allow space for other items within the room to breathe.

The Japandi trend

The Japandi aesthetic is a combination of Japanese and Scandinavian design. According to James Ashfield, both areas of the design complement each other due to the use of neutral colour, natural fabrics and responsibly sourced materials.

He explains that in the last 18 months, the Japandi trend has risen in popularity as our lives have been completely changed by the pandemic, and we have found ourselves looking to live in functional and beautiful spaces, searching for a design that encourages our wellbeing. With minimal clutter and calming colour schemes, it achieves that state of zen within the home that’s more important than ever.

Ashfield states that in the past, we saw trends such as ‘layered luxury’ where more is more, but now, more is less.

Japandi design is well-considered, practical and comfortable. The functionality of Japanese design is balanced with the famous cosiness of Hygge. When the two are combined, the result is a space that is warm and calming.

How to replicate Japandi style in your own home

Ashfield’s top tip is to create harmony. Lighting is an important element, and much can be taken from nature. Try swapping cold, LED lighting for warm white to mimic daylight fading, for a relaxed feel.

To achieve the Japandi aesthetic, you can also bring natural materials into your home – think about unfinished wood or bamboo.

In traditional Japanese homes, every object has a purpose, so try and reduce clutter where you can. If that’s impossible, take advantage of boxes, baskets and screens to hide away the clutter. Stick to neutral colour schemes, with light, open areas if possible. Brown and beige are key tones, but you can use muted greens, blues and pinks to complement natural wood.


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