I grew up in a family of minimalists. Come to think of it, maybe minimalism wasn’t my family’s artistic expression, but a necessity, as economic recession always made headlines in the 2000s. That’s why, less is more finds relevance in my home even today, as I often choose aesthetics that have a practical use.
Minimalistic values are so hard-wired in my brain that the voice in my head makes that ahem sound when I want to buy furniture. Sometimes, I give in. Like the time I ordered an (extra)-just-in-case night lamp. On such occasions, when I bring furniture home, my family constantly complains about the clutter it creates.
In order to keep the peace, I decided to introduce Japandi decor into my home. Since it is “similar to minimalism”, as Diala Al Moussawi, partner and head of design at Collide, a design and furniture store in Dubai, describes it.
However, the reason why I fell in love with the concept of Japandi is because it gets its values from a mix of Japanese and Dutch designs. The harmony in the contrasting relationship between Japan and Scandinavia resonated with me deeply because I grew up in a family of inter-faith marriages, who had contrasting world views and yet they were compatible.
The Japandi style is not obvious in my home, however, some elements of the décor has disarmed my fussy housemates. These include home furnishings in neutral colours, bamboo table mats, a low table made from natural wood. Such are the elements of Japandi, which speaks to my family in a simple language where clutter is forbidden.
What is Japandi
According to Al Moussawi, Japandi is a calm, simple interior that uses the elements of the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi that seeks beauty in imperfection. The ‘di’ represents Scandinavian values of hygge that promise a liberation from clutter and upholds a sense of contentment and belonging.
Japandi is a simple interior style that uses the elements of the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi and Scandinavian values of hygge...for a sense of relaxed living.
Craftsmanship is at the core of Japandi designs with some crediting early Danish designers, who travelled to Japan, for the concept of Japandi. However, the 1950s saw some prominent works of Japandi designs. Especially by Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi who introduced Japandi elements to 20th century styles.
The bamboo basket chair is one such example, which is a creation by Noguchi and Japanese designer Isamu Kenmochi.
If you want Japandi to be prominent in your home then there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
According to Al Moussawi, the first is natural materials: wood, stone, glass and ceramics. You must use materials that have a natural feel in order for the space to have character.
Furniture made from natural wood that come in rounded shapes are an important element in Japandi décor as it will help you achieve “…a sense of relaxed living and simplicity,” says Al Moussawi. “When done well, Japandi embraces comfort, coziness and wellbeing.”
How to create tranquility through Japandi
Look for furnishing that come in simple lines to redefine how your home should look like, says Neha Jamshid, an interior design intern at Interior Design Associates, Dubai. Rattan furniture, rugs made from natural fibres and woven place mats in natural colours create a sense of openness and space in small homes.
Avoid bold, contrasting colours and furniture that vary in texture and palette. Flashy accents create a sense of restlessness and excite the mind, which is the opposite of what a Japandi style evokes.
“Avoid bold, contrasting colours and furniture that vary in texture and palette. Flashy accents create a sense of restlessness and excite the mind, which is the opposite of what a Japandi style evokes. Choose your furnishing in creams, beige, soft, cool toned browns.”
Japandi in small homes
Having lots of space is considered as one of the prerequisites for an ideal interior. However, you can introduce Japandi even in smaller spaces. Al Moussawi says that sofas with under storage space, or beds with storage mechanism will help you organise your home better. As long as they belong to a neutral colour palette.
According to Jamshid, since Japandi is a form of minimalistic design, you will need to introduce some dual functionality in your home like:
• Wardrobes that come down as beds
• Tables you can fold or expand
• Kitchen counters that expand to accommodate four to six seats
• Double-decker beds that don’t have a bed below and instead have a table
• Space-saving furniture like ironing boards that are small and can be hung in the wardrobes, sofa-cum-beds or bunk beds are useful and appealing to children co-sharing a room
If you love plants
A quick search on Pinterest will show you how the Japandi technique makes use of plants and water too, says Jamshid. However, as with many who love gardens, apartments, especially studio flats never really have enough space in which we can create a garden of our own.
Too many plants in a small space will make the house look cluttered, says Al Moussawi. To stick to the Japandi theme, place bamboo sticks on the table or choose a healthy medium size plant as a corner piece to introduce some greenery in your home.
Have enough negative space
In any space, proportion is key, says Becki Willis, founder of Studio Van Oliver in Dubai. “Choose furniture that is in proportion to the space you have available. If you’re designing a small living room, for example, opt for one two or three-seater sofa with an open-framed accent chair, rather than one over-sized corner sofa.”
The key to creating a calming space in any home is to make sure you leave enough negative (empty) space around your room.
Using visually lighter furniture and pieces raised off the floor will also enhance the feeling of space in smaller rooms. “The key to creating a calming space in any home is to make sure you leave enough negative (empty) space around your room. Don’t feel the need to fill every wall with art, or every inch of shelf with accessories. It’s about balance.”