The cozy cleanliness of Scandinavian interiors and the minimalist beauty of traditional Japanese decor have made them staples of modern home design. Now there is a growing trend combining the two: “Japandi”.
Google searches for the term increased dramatically over the winter of 2020 as people around the world redesigned their homes amid Covid-19 lockdowns. Interest has steadily increased since, according to data from Google Trends.
“I think a lot of people were looking for a relaxing style,” Laila Rietnergen, author of the new book “Japandi Living,” said in an email interview. “The serene and soothing aesthetic of the Japandi style and the more durable handcrafted items are a perfect match for these needs.”
As zeitgeisty as it seems, this design fusion dates to the 1860s, Rietnergen said. She traces the aesthetic’s roots to Danish Navy Lieutenant William Carstensen, who visited Japan as the country opened up after two centuries of self-isolation. It was his book “Japan’s Capital and the Japanese” that first inspired Danish designers to travel to Japan, where they discovered that both cultures cherished simplicity and natural beauty, Rietnergen said.
Fast forward to today, contemporary interior designers are rediscovering commonalities in the penchant for neutral tones, natural materials and minimalist decor.
Along with offering practical advice to readers, Rietnergen’s book features dozens of photos of immaculate Japandi-style homes. As cozy as they are elegant, the living spaces are decorated with delicate paper lamps and inviting cream sofas handcrafted by Scandinavian designers.
In one, a sleek kitchen unfolds to reveal clutter-free light brown cabinetry that complements the wheat and tan tones of the dining area. A plant adds a touch of green to the room. Rietnergen says Scandinavian and Japanese design emphasizes the importance of nature, not only through colors like light browns, tans and soft whites, but also using materials like linen and wood. to create an atmosphere of tranquility.
Hygge and wabi-sabi
The key to Japandi design is to create something that’s subtly decorated without feeling empty — a place that’s stylish but where you can “feel at home and relaxed,” said Rietnergen, whose Instagram page @japandi.interior has nearly 450,000 subscribers.
This revolves around two design principles: ‘hygge’, a Danish and Norwegian term that relates to the feeling of comfort and warmth, and ‘wabi-sabi’, the Japanese concept of accepting imperfections.
To achieve either, decluttering is key, Rietnergen said, citing Japanese storage expert Marie Kondo whose methods of home organization have become a global phenomenon following the success of her Netflix show. , “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”. Rietnergen, like Kondo, recommends treating tidying up less like a chore and more like a celebration — and a chance to ask yourself if the objects around you make you happy.
The Japandi style also celebrates craftsmanship, whether it’s the delicate light sculptures of Isamu Noguchi or the furniture of Carl Hansen, whose wishbone chairs sell for thousands of dollars. But Rietnergen points out that aesthetics can also be achieved by those decorating on a budget. After all, she says, it’s a philosophy guided by the belief that “less is more.”
Rather than buying cheap, mass-produced furniture that won’t last, Rietnergen suggests buying second-hand while saving up for those few standout pieces you can cherish for years. And, in any case, the beauty of Japandi design is that there are no strict criteria to follow, added the author.
“Every interpretation of Japandi house and style is different,” she said. “It’s really important to dare to make your own choices. Your house is not a showroom and should not be a copy and paste of something you have seen. An important part is to add elements and personal items.”
“Japandi Living: Japanese tradition. Scandinavian design,” published by Lannoo, is available now.
Top image: Interiors by MENU Space.
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