Design styles are continuously evolving and transforming into something new that suits the necessities of the moment. It is the same with Japandi design. The word is not an usual one, but it has been out there for some time now. It describes an emerging design style which is a fusion of two apparent distinctive ones. Japan needs no introduction, while the inapparent ingredient is the word "Scandi" which is a shortcut for the Scandinavian minimalist style.
Japandi can be describes as fusion of functional, minimalistic Japanese and Scandinavian designs that are aesthetically pleasing.
Hygge meets wabi-sabi
Because at first sight, the Scandinavian countries (referring to Sweden, Norway and Denmark) and Japan don't have anything in common, one should analyse their point of view about how to live and be content.
Wabi-sabi describes the Japanese way of living by embracing authenticity, accepting things as they are, leaving with humility and accepting life as it is. This philosophy is adopted on all levels of existence, including interior design. Authenticity and acceptance of imperfection is the wabi-sabi way.
Photo Johan Sundberg
Hygge is the Scandinavian notion that describes comfort and coziness of the home as a sanctuary for self, a place of retreat from the noisy world, a comfortable batteries recharger.
The two cultures have in common the harsh environmental conditions in which they thrive. Hygge is an idea born from the cold climate with harsh winters and little natural light of the Nordic areas, while wabi-sabi comes from an island in the Pacific Ocean that is constantly facing earthquakes and limited resources. Both prize utility above decoration, emphasise functionality of the space and objects with accent on the people using them.
In their endeavour for universality, the two major philosophies ended up completing each other, alternating lead, staining one another. Their differences are important because of the way they complete each other; while Japanese style might get too sleek and elegant, the Scandinavian one comes with its variances. The neutral colour palette of Scandinavian design is saved by the rich contrasting colours of the Japanese style.
Principles of Japandi design
Japandi design is about simplicity, natural elements and coziness and it takes what is good from both philosophies.
Scandinavian design is minimalistic and functional - the form usually follows the function while Japanese design is relying on the simple rustic Japanese way of life, where you are in touch with the nature, with a kind of natural minimalism, where abstract forms create a special aesthetic. The forms are aesthetically pleasing not only on the strength of their shape, but also because they are rooted in functional themes (this comes from both styles, simply because they both rely on some type of functionalism).
Because of its functionality, minimalism is a central concept of Japandi, just as in both Scandinavian and Japanese style. They create a style that is complex in their simplicity - complexity in simplicity - and this is usually something that gives comfort, joy, and a pleasure for living and being in the world. Minimalism is about taking everything to its essence to make it simple - to achieve simplicity.
Japandi focuses on calm and tranquility, therefor the colour palette is neutral and soft and the accents are made by the use of different materials - like natural wood or with the use of darker hues that come from the Japanese style. It is also a sustainable style that emphasises the use of natural materials like wood and stone and on the quality and craftsmanship of handmade furniture what can stand the test of time.
Japandi interior designIn interior design, Japandi is about soft colours and shades, natural-wood furniture, smooth and sleek lines that form a calming environment. It is about minimalism with a cause, by keeping only what makes you feel happy and transforms your home into a comfortable space.
It is about decluttered space because even if it values imperfections, it doesn't tolerate chaos. It is about a sense of order and using natural elements inside - such as wood, stone and flowers because they have lots of natural imperfections that fit the wabi-sabi way.
It is about simple and clean lines but with a focus on the human needs, the users being at the centre of the design.
Both cultures relate with the power of nature - earthquake in Japan and cold weather in Scandinavia. Wood offers both strength and warmth at the same time, while being a natural and sustainable material. It is now understood why wood stands at the foundation of design concepts in both philosophies and it does so in Japandi all the same.
The pale and neutral colours used in Scandinavian style sometimes need contrasts in order for them not to transform the space into a cold one. Combining the two design styles, to this calm colour palettes, Japandi adds rich tones from the Japanese aesthetic to create some interesting contrasts that live up the interior.
Natural elements are a very important element in Japandi. From quality handmade furniture that stands the test of time to interesting ceramic sculptures and elegant plants are used to bring the exterior inside. In the same time, these natural elements have their own natural imperfection that is a core ingredient in the Japanese style, by putting an emphasise on finding beauty into imperfection.
Light is also an important feature of any Japandi interior and it is an influence from both styles. In the Scandinavian design, there is an accent on the use of natural light by integrating large windows, and also in the Japanese style where traditional homes used to have moving wooden panels made of paper.
The concept comes to fill the need of the new global society to define its personal space which, without having any constraints from the consumerist era, fails to take an original shape. As a blend of two powerful cultures having in common the coexistence in harsh conditions, scarcity of resources and respect for the nature, Japandi aims for the universality over the modern human society. It is yet a new concept rising without an intrinsic philosophy system to substantiate.