Japanese interior design is being mimicked world-wide, for good reason. Japanese tradition is steeped in many qualities that are worthy of mimicry— such as a deep-rooted love and respect of nature, or a fondness towards minimalist interiors that highlight the artisan-appeal of individual pieces.
Our busy world, whose cultures seem to mesh more readily thanks to social media, is primed to open their doors to the relaxing and very zen style of Japan. Of course, there are other factors at play that cause us to take note of Japanese interior design, such as the steady world-wide population growth that requires us to live in tighter living quarters (as many in Japan are very familiar with).
Here we will look at all the key factors that are causing the world to fall in love with Japanese interior design:
Simplicity and Modern Minimalism
The chaos of our busy lives seems to get worse by the minute. We find ourselves running from work, to school, to kids activities—Leaving us exhausted and craving a simpler way of life. A recent NBC news broadcast noted a new study that many people can relate to, citing that more Americans feel pushed to the limit in their stressful lives.
A large part of this stress is caused by our hectic lifestyles, but another interesting fact of this study reveals that a large percentage of Americans also have high stress levels due to uncertainty in their finances and careers. Surely this is not just an American epidemic in our closely connected world.
What does all this stress mean when it comes to our home design? Simply put, it means that we are naturally craving a simpler way of life. We are craving a private, calming, uncluttered retreat to escape to at the end of the day. Hence, the simplicity of Japanese architecture has become a popular go-to style. The Japanese have coined a phrase—Danshari, meaning a simpler life where the junk (both literal and psychological) is tossed aside in place of a simple life. Maybe we could all use a little Danshari in our daily lives?
There is a definite trend toward people buying smaller homes. Of course, there are numerous factors that attribute to this trend:
- Finances and distrust of the economy, thereby causing people to be wary of taking on large mortgages
- The large population of aging citizens who are looking to downsize
- World population is at an all-time high, causing many to live in small homes or in busy city apartments/lofts.
- There is a greener world-view, and people want to live sustainably, therefore live in a home where space is not wasted.
Japan is a prime example of many of the statements mentioned above. Japan is heavily populated—it is the world’s tenth-most populous country. The urban population of Japan is more than triple that of its rural population, causing people to crowd into the popular city centers of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.
This crowded city life requires the Japanese to live in tight living quarters; however, it doesn’t seem to pose a design problem for savvy Japanese designers/interior decorators. The minimalist design principles and love of natural materials makes most Japanese homes feel open, warm and airy— despite their small size.
This probably the most copied Japanese style— the very zen, meditative decor. When life is hectic and fast-paced, you need an outlet to calm you down, a place to unwind away from the city sounds.
Japanese bath houses are a long-standing tradition for the people of Japan. They involve the ancient, Zen ritual of relaxing in a communal bath, while you unwind and converse/gossip with friends. Of course, many of us would much rather bathe alone, so the Japanese soaking tub has become a popular export, despite its small size, its natural artisan appeal has gained a large following.
With the introduction of Buddhism into Japan from China, the art of meditation naturally followed and became part of Japanese culture. There are many forms of meditation in Japan. The Japanese consider their ancient tea ceremonies to be meditative—Even the natural Japanese gardens and their martial arts have a form of meditation intrinsic within them. The world is catching on to this very zen lifestyle that is steeped in art and tradition; People are discovering its healing powers as a balm to the busy outside world.
Natural Building Elements
Natural building is a form of building that emphasizes sustainability. The use of many natural, sustainable building materials has become a popular tool for builders who are trying to go green.
Here is the neat thing—Japan has been building sustainably for centuries. How so? Here are some of the many ways that Japanese buildings are sustainable (past and present):
- Building is small and compact, therefore lessening the ecological footprint
- Natural, local building materials are used such as cedar and bamboo
- Bamboo is a very fast-growing plant that can be harvested sustainably
- Architecture is unique and oriented in a manner that optimizes the buildings systems/functions (and minimizes costs)
- The use of ancient building techniques is still prevalent i.e. stone, clay, mud, straw, seaweed, wood and bamboo.
As the rest of the world begins to seek instruction on using renewable resources in their buildings, it only seems natural that we would look to Japan to learn from their techniques of sustainable living.
If you are stressed and ready for a more Zen way of living, then maybe it is time to look at Japanese interior design. Who could resist the natural elegance of their soaking tubs, or the warmth that emits from the use of natural wood?
Japanese homes may be small, but their simple minimalist design allows one to feel relaxed—not confined. Rid yourself of the clutter in your mind and open your home to a little Danshari today.
Do you love Japanese style? If so, what is your favorite part of Japanese interiors?