Anyone familiar with Japanese design will appreciate that it is deeply rooted in tradition and has influenced Western architecture and interiors. While Nordic designers have found a natural affinity in Japanese minimalism, the influence of Japan is more nuanced and goes beyond the clean aesthetic. We caught up interior designer Ikuhiro Yamagata, who told us about the evolution of this style.
“A lot of people come to us if they want a modern style. It hasn’t changed in the past and now. However, this modern style has a different image for each person. Because modern style equals “modern style”. In other words, it’s an advanced interior that requires a mixed style finish. We can say that the watchword of this interior is authentic. I think the idea of using good furniture for a long time hasn’t changed in the past, now and in the future.
Japanese style interior design elements
The basis of modern Japanese interior design is found in Shinto and Wabi-Sabi. The Shinto belief system revolves around the spirits (kami) that inhabit all things, living and non-living. Wabi-Sabi refers to the beauty of imperfection. Each Japanese-inspired space, if authentic, must show a deep respect and appreciation for the natural world. This results in the use of modest and honest materials such as wood, stone, ceramics, cast iron objects and concrete surfaces. Crisp white walls, large windows and uncluttered spaces help create a serene atmosphere.
Japanese living spaces and Japanese-style decoration
Typically, when one thinks of Japanese houses and apartments, minimalist design comes to mind. Still, some of these modern living spaces aren’t minimalist or have a lot in common with traditional Japanese homes. The compact apartments in Tokyo or the concrete masterpieces created by Tadao Ando bear witness to this. Some traditional elements have been adapted with a modern touch. Tatami mats, for example, now appear as raised elements in a room, which improves sitting comfort.
Decor that takes inspiration from modern Japanese interior design takes only a few elements of this style. An example can be found in the black lacquered surfaces and bamboo panels used in the modern minimalist room. Simple, minimalist vases that showcase the beauty of flowers or a tasteful combination of wooden furniture and stone floors are decor items that can bring a classic Japanese flair to a home.
Decorate in a Japanese-inspired style
In order to recreate this beautifully minimalist style, choose wood furniture that showcases traditional craftsmanship and clean lines. Oil finishes enhance the textures of the wood. Natural fiber rugs can add even more texture to a room. Keep in mind that shelves that keep items out of sight are best, especially for the entry area. Beautiful bamboo accents and screens and Japanese-style ink illustrations can add authenticity and atmosphere to a space. Minimalist vases can just encourage you to explore your ikebana skills while adding a touch of serenity to the space.
While the previous tips will add a bit of understated elegance to any room, the Japanese-style bathroom requires a special approach. From sentos to onsens, swimming is an integral part of Japanese culture. To style a Japanese bathroom, a freestanding bathtub is essential. The tub will be the centerpiece of the bathroom and can be finished with a white porcelain coating. For a truly authentic touch, try a teak wood tub. For those who cannot install a freestanding tub, the vibe of a Japanese bathroom can be recreated using wood and stone paired with light or muted colors. Multifunctional stools can also serve as decorative accents, while clean lines and minimal accessories in a clean space complete the look.
“I think design is not something I create, it’s something I create with my clients. On the contrary, I think the essence of design is that the client has, and I think it’s the role to bring them out through hearing and communication. Therefore, my design philosophy always starts from scratch. We believe that the highest priority should be given to the customers who live there every day. Mr. Yamagata shared with us.
Many contemporary homes offer a different take on traditional Japanese homes. They also have a range of creative design solutions such as flexible shelving and built-in storage. Whether the house was built in a traditional way or with a contemporary taste, Japanese houses are always quiet. Natural wood furniture, a few decorative items and attention to outdoor spaces help define these unique interiors.