The cozy cleanliness of Scandinavian interiors and the minimalist beauty of traditional Japanese decor have made them staples of modern home design. Now there is a growing trend combining the two: “Japandi”.
“I think a lot of people were looking for a relaxing style,” Laila Rietnergen, author of the new book “Japandi Living,” said in an email interview. “The serene and soothing aesthetic of the Japandi style and the more durable handcrafted items are a perfect match for these needs.”
An earthenware teapot sits on an elegant wooden table. Credit: We are Kees
As zeitgeisty as it seems, this design fusion dates to the 1860s, Rietnergen said. She traces the aesthetic’s roots to Danish Navy Lieutenant William Carstensen, who visited Japan as the country opened up after two centuries of self-isolation. It was his book “Japan’s Capital and the Japanese” that first inspired Danish designers to travel to Japan, where they discovered that both cultures cherished simplicity and natural beauty, Rietnergen said.
Fast forward to today, contemporary interior designers are rediscovering commonalities in the penchant for neutral tones, natural materials and minimalist decor.
Along with offering practical advice to readers, Rietnergen’s book features dozens of photos of immaculate Japandi-style homes. As cozy as they are elegant, the living spaces are decorated with delicate paper lamps and inviting cream sofas handcrafted by Scandinavian designers.
A delicate paper lantern complements a neat shelf. Credit: Jonas Bjerre Poulsen
Hygge and wabi-sabi
This revolves around two design principles: ‘hygge’, a Danish and Norwegian term that relates to the feeling of comfort and warmth, and ‘wabi-sabi’, the Japanese concept of accepting imperfections.
The Japandi style also celebrates craftsmanship, whether it’s the delicate light sculptures of Isamu Noguchi or the furniture of Carl Hansen, whose wishbone chairs sell for thousands of dollars. But Rietnergen points out that aesthetics can also be achieved by those decorating on a budget. After all, she says, it’s a philosophy guided by the belief that “less is more.”
Soft white and tan tones paired with a tree. Credit: We are Kees
Rather than buying cheap, mass-produced furniture that won’t last, Rietnergen suggests buying second-hand while saving up for those few standout pieces you can cherish for years. And, in any case, the beauty of Japandi design is that there are no strict criteria to follow, added the author.
“Every interpretation of Japandi house and style is different,” she said. “It’s really important to dare to make your own choices. Your house is not a showroom and should not be a copy and paste of something you have seen. An important part is to add elements and personal items.”
Top image: Interiors by MENU Space.
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