Japan is known across the world for its unique and sophisticated interior design. The traditions of Japanese interior design have lasted through time and to this day you can spot the influence of Japan in the interior design across the world. Below we will discuss the five principles of Japanese interior design and how you can incorporate these into your Village House home.
If you have just moved into a new apartment, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the five principles of Japanese interior design so that you can apply these to your home. If you are apartment hunting at the moment, please check out our available rental apartments across Japan.
Shizen and Natural Elements
Shizen, meaning “to be natural” or “nature”, is the idea that you should focus on natural elements and surround yourself with nature. When the term shizen is applied to things, it also means that they should look like they have been taken straight out of nature.
As humans, we find things in nature inherently attractive. Trees, fruit, flowers, other animals, and raw materials are all appealing in some way since we have a deep connection to nature. Therefore, the closer an object is to nature, the more we may have a positive reaction to it.
Ikebana flower displays are meant to look like they are still ‘in the wild’, so try and make any pieces and furniture look like they are also still in the wild as well as being made from natural elements.
When considering interior design through the lens of shizen, pieces that are the most natural and related to nature are best. The focus of shizen in interior design is also the absence of artificialness and fake things. Think about incorporating furniture made from wood, stone, and glass. Try to avoid bright artificial colors and materials and focus on the natural elements.
Similarly, you can take shizen very literally and use plants and greenery as decor in your apartment. Plants breathe life into homes and can positively impact your well-being, there’s a good reason why they are so popular in homes! Take some walks out in nature and see what else you may find, perhaps you’ll come across a beautifully shaped branch, or some leaves you’d like to frame.
With shizen, you may also want to think about how to highlight any natural light and make the most of it. Make way for natural light to shine through windows. You can also paint walls white or cream or light beige so that they better reflect natural light.
Seijaku and Neutral Colors
In a similar vein, natural and neutral colors are a lot more pleasing and calming in comparison to bright and artificial colors. A more natural white, something a little more beige, will be much more impactful than a bright white. So, if you are going to paint your walls, bear this in mind.
Seijaku means ‘tranquility’, ‘solitude’, and ‘stillness’. It is important to work on interior design that will allow for a sense of stillness and tranquility. Embracing this in interior design means creating open spaces and focusing on simplicity. You can use neutral colors to emphasize this and work towards achieving tranquility.
Make sure to use similar color tones, as well as textures, throughout your home so that you can achieve a sense of aesthetic harmony. This will create a peaceful, clean, and organized feel in your living space.
Neutral colors align more with what we see out in nature, so by using neutral colors, you can follow the idea of shizen in your interior design. Also, make sure to have subtle color gradation rather than big blocks of contrasting color, this will align more with the natural elements.
Kanso, Ma, and Reducing Clutter
This is a big one. Simplicity is key in Japanese interior design, and there are so many words and beliefs that highlight this. The first thing to do in your apartment is get rid of any clutter. “Kanso” is the art of simplicity, and it features heavily in Japanese interior design.
Less is more, and to achieve less, you first need to eliminate as much clutter as possible. This doesn’t have to mean putting things in the bin though. We recommend taking things to second-hand shops where possible to avoid any waste. You also want to reduce the feeling of ‘noise’, so get rid of things that are busy and noisy. Once the clutter has been eliminated, you can focus on simplicity and clarity.
“Ma” is the idea of creating negative space. Ma refers to creating space rather than empty space. By creating space, it creates space and time to breathe and reflect, which makes your home more peaceful and relaxing. The open space that ma encourages also has the effect of highlighting the things that actually are there. Ma draws focus and attention to the few things that are around, which helps to create a sense of importance and respect towards those things. After getting rid of clutter, you can then be deliberate about where you’d like to create open spaces. Ma allows you to then display things with intention and create meaning.
Japanese interior design is known for being particularly smart and innovative. The country is famous for its modular design, which is a result of the highly populated cities and how land is often a premium.
Modular design refers to homes that are multifaceted and multifunctional. They are very practical and generally cut out anything unnecessary, favoring simplicity and convenience. Thanks to clever modular design, a room can be both a living space, dining room, and a workspace with some small and easy transformations that take only a few minutes.
Modular design and modular homes are very popular, and they have been for decades now. However, the idea relates to older traditions too. Futons have always been much easier to move and clear away than a bed frame, for example.
Wabi-Sabi, Iki, and Home Decor
Wabi-sabi is a popular idea in Japanese interior design, as are both the terms ‘wabi’ and ‘sabi’. In interior design, ‘wabi’ refers to worn beauty. Things that look rustic and aged are more beautiful. There is also an emphasis on the simplicity of home decor. ‘Sabi’ refers to perfect imperfections of interior design and home decor. Incorporate simple asymmetrical designs since they will create a more surprising and interesting visual experience.
Wabi-sabi combines these to mean the beauty of imperfection. It encourages you to accept any imperfections around you and instead embrace them, which creates an authentic interior design. You can incorporate this into your home decor by using second-hand items, up cycling, and renovating pieces to embrace their history, story, and uniqueness.
Iki is the idea of subtlety. Instead of over-the-top and extravagant decor, focus on subdued displays of opulence, ornamentation, and character. You can do this by exercising restraint with your home decor and by being minimal with decorations.
These ideas at the core of Japanese interior design have withstood the test of time. Although they are incredibly popular, they go beyond trends and are instead a way of living. These ideas can also encourage a more eco-friendly and sustainable approach toward home decor and interior design, so we hope you enjoy incorporating them into your Village House apartment decor!