Japandi :: The Cross Cultural Fusion Design Trend

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Last year, one of the emerging design trends was the Japandi, named after the fusion of the Scandinavian minimalism and the Japanese aesthetic. I’ve watched it grow and bloom into a trend that bears a new balance in the design world. The Japandi interior trend in design is bringing together the best of both worlds with a fresh uptake on minimalism. And the way I see it, this cross cultural fusion is about to get big. Hence, in case you’re thinking of restyling, here are the essential four tips you need to know for creating the perfect Japandi interior that promotes zen living. 🙂

A Japandi styled dining space with a whimsical pendant light over the round dark stained wood dining table. The surrounding walls are made of light colored wood. Large windows allow for lots of natural light. Image by John Lewis.
Image by John Lewis.
Three images in a collage of a traditional Japanese home interior with a fantastic lake view.
All images by shell_ghostcage on Pixabay. I thought I add these images to make a point – that balance and harmony are the two elements sought after Japanese interiors. Everything is about creating a sense of calm on an interplay of contrasts.

Clean lines, minimal styling and a limited color palette are the three common elements in both Scandi and Japanese interiors. But their differences are mainly responsible for this most interesting aesthetic, that has the potential to give designers greater freedom. One key difference is the color palette; both are neutral but the Japanese color palette is based on a richer and deeper in color stained woods, compared to the Scandinavian.

Moreover in Japanese interiors, monochromatic accents such as red and black create intense contrasts and focal points, but because of their balanced layout and spread, harmony always prevails. Another key difference is the decor used. Japanese interiors are all about de-cluttered spaces with minimal styling and statement, eye-catching, meaningful decor. Warmth is created via their color palette.

Scandinavian interiors on the other hand, rely heavily on the decor to create a warmer and more inviting home against a pale neutral palette. In every case, one thing is for sure: a Japandi interior requires a good edit of your possessions to look sleek – and simplicity is of paramount importance. Every item needs its spot. Anything on display must be meaningful.

The four essential steps guide

A contemporary reading vignette with a Japandi flair. The wooden bookcase is darker than the accent wooden wall. It is decorated with black spine books and small plants. No frills. The black armchair and stool add a black contrast to balance everything out. Image by John Lewis.
Image by John Lewis. Inky hues and a mix of different woods creates a unique cohesive result when focus is paid on just essential decor items with no frills.
Japandi style. A black contemporary bench against an accent wall made of wooden planks and a coat hanging hooks. Image by Nest.co.uk.
Image by Nest.co.uk.
A contemporary dining setting with a natural light wooden table top in contrast to the black frame chairs and rusty color seating with a pendant light composed of four white glazed globes, creates the perfect balanced Zen space. Lots of contrast, airy lines, curves and easy flows. Image by Nest.co.uk.
Image by Nest.co.uk.. A neutral area rug is the best choice when putting together a Japandi interior. It works like a canvas that anchors the furniture and decor.

Mix and match to contrast

The aim is to mix and match in order to create contrasts. Mix natural light woods with darker stained woods. Similarly, black stained furniture can work equally well provided that a light shade wood is mixed in for contrast.


A entryway vignette with a coat hanger on the wall, and an Akari floor lamp by the window. Image by Nest.co.uk.
Image by Nest.co.uk.. The Akari floor lamp first designed in the early 1950s by American/Japanese artist Isamu Noguchi.
The Vitra RAR Eames plastic rocking armchair paired next to an Akari floor lamp in a house vignette with lots of wooden shelving and a wooden floor. Image by Nest.co.uk.
Image by Nest.co.uk.. The Vitra RAR Eames plastic rocking armchair paired next to an Akari floor lamp. A nice combo, don’t you think?!
Shibori patterns on textiles and dinnerware styled on a rustic dining setup with a large artwork (a big blue circle on a white canvas). Image by SainsburysHome.
Image by Sainsburys Home. Shibori pattern pillows and decorative prints on the dinnerware.

Statement pieces

Use statement artwork as opposed to gallery walls. Create strong focal points for greater impact in a minimalist approach. Similarly, using lighting like paper rice lanterns can really add a Japanese flair to your contemporary space. Another element to consider are textiles. Unlike Scandi interiors that usually have a sheepskin here and there, opt for textiles with traditional print patterns like Shibori as a means of embracing a wabi – sabi mantra.


A pastel beige sofa with a plant besides and a rice paper lantern atop giving that Japandi flair to this vignette. Image by Nest.co.uk.
Image by Nest.co.uk. The Formakami JH3 Pendant Light (GBP 186.00)
The Skagerak Reykjavik DaybedA contemporary minimal daybed in a room filled with windows. Image by Nest.co.uk.
Image by Nest.co.uk.. The Skagerak Reykjavik Daybed designed by the Scandi duo Included Middle – textile designer Margrethe Odgaard and furniture designer Chris L. Halstrøm.
A Muuto platform tray lying o.n a table styled in with a minimalist way. Image by Nest.co.uk.
Image by Nest.co.uk.. The Muuto Platform Tray is a great example of Scandinavian design fusion and Japanese artisanry.
A stack of black Japanese styled bowls on the left and a cream white bowl on the right. Image by Kelly Hoppen.
Image by Kelly Hoppen. Bonsai bowls.

Clean lines and geometric shapes

Opt for simple but bold furniture with clean lines. Urban low, airy furniture that eases the flow paired with statement pieces made of natural elements is the perfect deal. The same applies with decor. Curvy shapes that have an airy quality to them are just right. Handmade ceramics make one of my favorite decor elements.


Two images of Bonsai trees. The left image is a house plant. The right image is a Bonsai tree outdoors surrounded by a water body.
Bonsai trees. On the left a house plant (via) and on the right as found outdoors (via).


Unlike the Boho-Scandi approach, plants need to make a statement not because of their number and the fact that they’re found anywhere and everywhere in clusters, but because just like with the decor, one is enough to make the point. Their existence in a space has a symbolic character. As such, a Bonsai house plant can make a fabulous addition to a home. In Japanese culture, trees are believed to bring good luck. Moreover, the addition of one such tree plant can surely add a vibrant color accent in addition to texture.


Let me state for the record, that this Japandi interior trend is not for all. In a western society where maximalism has the upper hand, a trend like this can be quite a challenge to adopt. The Nords are already a step ahead. I do however, salute any design trend that makes an effort to fuse diversified elements, because that is surely one way to bring about changes and that may improve our living in the long run.

Who knows, perhaps one day I’ll get the chance to fuse Cycladic minimalism with the Japandi design. (I wonder what I could call that – anyway in case you want to read on Cycladic minimalism – la dolce vita living in the Greek islands)! LOL! Lastly, as little side note let me add that since this is a fresh trend, good imagery is a bit scarce compared to other trends. However, I do suggest you hop over the Italianbark for some more inspiration on the Japandi interior trend.

As always, I’d like to know what your thoughts are…


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