What exactly is Japandi? It kind of sounds like a fancy cocktail you might find at an upscale bar lounge or the name of a dresser sold at IKEA. But Japandi is actually a style of interior design. If you’re a fan of minimal and modern, Japandi is something you need to know about.
A portmanteau of ‘Japan’ and ‘Scandinavian,’ Japandi style is a fusion of the two aesthetics. At first glance, you might think that Japan and Scandinavia are polar opposites. They are, after all, several continents apart, and their cultures really couldn’t be more different. But you might be surprised to realize that Japan and Scandinavia have more in common than you think.
The Japanese Influence
Japanese style has evolved over the centuries, but the design aesthetic we know and love today is streamlined, simplified, and uncluttered.
Many Japanese homes embrace the art of Zen. There was a time not too long ago when it was considered luxurious and bountiful to acquire material goods like home furnishings. These days, homeowners the world over seem more interested in a more minimalist lifestyle, and Japanese design evokes that esthetic.
Zen philosophy lies at the heart of minimalist design. Zen comes from ancient Buddhist principles, where adherents would attempt to understand the meaning of life without getting caught up in excess and incidentals. Zen principles encourage mindful consumption in all things, and that includes material goods. It also means imbuing your life with peace, harmony, and balance.
In interior design, this manifests through the interplay of the elements, including earth, water, air, metal, and fire. In Japanese design, you’ll see large windows with natural light, earthy materials, and lots of open spaces sometimes separated by shoji – sliding doors made from paper stretched between wooden frames. These designs favor artisanal handcrafting, low furniture, and elements that bring the outdoors in, such as woven straw mats called tatami.
Scandinavia is a Northern European grouping of countries that includes Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, Latvia, and Estonia. Despite their differences, all these countries are connected by the threads of culture, history, and geography. Although their national makeup is complex, Scandinavian interior design itself is beautifully simple.
Scandinavian design is beloved for its core tenet of hygge—a term so popular that it was actually added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2016! This Danish concept is defined as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being,” and it goes far beyond interior design. For Scandinavians, hygge is a way of life.
Although hygge has long been a staple of Scandinavian culture, what we now know as ‘Scandinavian design’ only appeared around the 1950s. The early iterations of Scandinavian design were based on the late 19th-century principles of Modernism and Arts and Crafts, and embraced creativity, artisan handiworks, and adherence to Nordic tradition. It essentially marked the renaissance of folk crafting tradition and the rebirth of Romanticism.
The hallmarks of this design movement were fluid shapes, graceful lines, and natural forms and colors. Beauty, simplicity, and elegance are fundamental to Scandinavian design, along with accessibility and affordability. Scandinavian design blended function and aesthetic: just because people couldn’t afford expensive furniture didn’t mean they couldn’t have beauty in their lives.
How Scandi and Japanese Design Works Together
Now you can probably see the clear intersections between Japanese and Scandinavian styles. They both favor minimalism, craftsmanship, earthy colors and textiles, and natural elements that provide a connection to the outdoors.
So the melding of the two cultures together in Japandi style just makes sense. The essence of Japandi design is simple, streamlined, and functional interior decor that is both comfortable and pleasing to the eye. The style is characterized by:
- Nature’s bounty: Invite nature into your home with earthy textiles and shapes, plenty of natural light, and plants. Look for furniture pieces that prioritize handiwork and sustainability, and that will last you for years to come.
- Muted color palettes: you’ll see lots of beiges, greiges, brown tones, green tones, greys, whites, off-whites, and creams. Think earthy hues! They tend to be more calming and tranquil, and are also a neutral backdrop if you want to add spare and intentional pops of color.
- Minimalism: Less-is-more and quality over quantity are the governing principles of the Japandi style. Invest in pieces that you love. That doesn’t mean you should go out and drop thousands on two pieces of furniture, but it does mean you should choose wisely and sparingly.
Japandi style blends these two cultures with simplicity and ease. For a home as beautiful as it is sleek, try the Japandi style—and when you’re ready to get started, J.T. McDermott is here to help! Reach out today, and let’s start the conversation.
Brittany received her interior design degree in 2010 and recently earned her kitchen and bathroom certifications. She sees her job as much more than just picking out pretty colors and materials – it also involves exact measurements, plenty of planning, and determining how to have a space accurately reflect the lifestyle of its occupants.