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Discover The Trend: Japandi Style

Where Japanese serenity and Scandinavian minimalism meet

Jon Sharpe By Jon SharpeChief Creative Officer

The antithesis of a cultural clash, an unexpected meeting between Japanese and Scandinavian interior design has materialised as a surprisingly perfect pairing. Quickly becoming known as Japandi style, the trend is silently sweeping the interiors world with its peaceful hues and calming textures.

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Both devoid of fuss or extravagance, and both self assured in their minimalism, the duo reflect a feeling of serenity and effortless style. Having mastered the paredback look individually, the combination does nothing but inspire a space of tranquillity, and, well, not too much else.

What is Japandi style?

The crossroads between Scandinavia's love of light woods, concrete and simple colour palettes and Japan’s modern take on its traditional, uncluttered spaces. As a combination of the two, Japandi interior design embraces their mutual understanding that it is people that belong at the centre of design, not stuff.

Colour is limited, though natural textures and light are more than encouraged, play around with woods, plants and upholstery (no patterns please) to emulate the fresh feel.

Furniture remains low to the ground, though Japandi sofas mimic more low-lying Western style seating as opposed to a zabuton (the cushion used for seating in Japanese homes).

Craftsmanship is similarly key. High-quality furniture investments make an excellent choice, as fewer, simpler pieces means more focus on their materials and form and honours the Japanese tradition of elegant simplicity.

How is Japandi style different from Scandinavian minimalism?

Lying somewhere in the middle of the two aesthetics, a Japandi home not only features Scandanivia’s infatuation with hygge but also Japan’s traditional aesthetic of wabi-sabi.

Rooted in the Japanese appreciation for the imperfect or incomplete, wabi-sabi is a reflection of the beauty found in nature. A now well-recognised example, kintsugi is the Japanese art of filling cracks in broken pottery with gold to make a piece even more splendid than its previously perfect state.

Scandinavian design on the other hand, though relaxed, leans towards simplicity. Make that flawless simplicity. Polished concrete floors simply do not appreciate a crack running through them, no matter how golden it may be. Nor does their light wooden furniture enjoy a rough edge. A perfectly sanded finish sounds far more appropriate.

The neutral colour palettes, though often the go-to for both cultural styles, have manifested themselves in slightly different hues. Scandi design tends towards a palette that is much cooler—perfect for the often icy temperatures of Scandinavian winter. The Japanese on the other hand opt for darker woods, adding warmth to their spaces. In many ways, Scandinavia’s lighter palette represents a more feminine vibe when set next to Japan’s darker lines.

As an amalgamation of the two, Japandi draws from both; it's not afraid of a rough edge or an imperfection, nor is it focussed on the need for one. And for its colour scheme, well, it's a comprehensive neutral one where cooler tones and warmer tones coexist quite happily.

How to create a Japandi style home

It helps to think of Japandi design as more of a lifestyle. Once achieved, the look feels like a natural choice for a space creating a timelessly understated space which combines both functionality and wellness. More room means more space to think or better yet, less to think about.

The Japandi style living room

A softer living space than a modern Japanese interior, Japandi living rooms, though minimal, require comfort (remember the hygge element). Best with an abundance of natural light, Japandi living rooms have an underlying bright and airy environment. Low wooden coffee tables with organic forms are left clear, as books and vases are best kept in built-in cupboards.

Add dimension with the only acceptable glimpse of colour: plants. Whilst bamboo might feel too literal or even a touch cliché, one large plant like a fiddle-leaf fig or a nicolau should suffice.

The Japandi style bedroom

Words used to describe Japandi style conveniently match those we associate with better sleep. Calming and peaceful with a notable absence of clutter, this design aesthetic translates perfectly to the bedroom. An easier space to keep simple than the living room, the key is to remember what the room is designed for sleeping. 

With this in mind, Japandi requires a low-lying bed frame and not much else. Hold off on layering cushions and bed-side knick-knacks. If you need things in close reach, consider a similarly low-lying bedside table with simple drawers to keep things hidden. Warm, intimate lighting can help with winding down and texture can be added via linen sheets and a tightly woven rug made of natural fibres.

Header image credit: Lawson Robb