‘Japandi’: Why Japanese-meets-Scandi design is taking over the internet

Written by Hannah Pham, CNN

The soothing refinement of Scandinavian interiors and the minimalist beauty of traditional Japanese decor make them two of the most important elements of modern home design. Now, there is a growing trend that combines the two: “Japan.”

Google searches for the term skyrocketed in the winter of 2020, as people around the world redecorated their homes amid Covid-19 lockdowns. Interest has steadily increased since then, according to data from Google Trends.

“I think a lot of people are looking for a way to relax,” said Laila Rietnergen, author of the new book “Japandi Living” in an email interview. “The beauty and comfort of Japanese style and materials that are more durable fit into these needs.”

A clay tea pot sits on a beautiful wooden table.

A clay tea pot sits on a beautiful wooden table. credit: Wij Zijn Kees

Zeitgeisty as expected, this combination began in the 1860s, says Rietnergen. He found aesthetic reasons in the Danish naval lieutenant William Carstensen, who visited Japan when the country opened up after two centuries of isolation. His book “Japan’s Capital and the Japanese” first prompted Danish designers to travel to Japan, where they saw that both cultures maintained simplicity and natural beauty, Rietnergen said.

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Fast forward to today, designers in this period rediscover the usual penchant for unique tones, natural materials and minimalist decorations.

Along with providing practical advice for readers, Rietnergen’s book features many pictures of immaculate Japanese-style houses. As comfortable as it is stylish, the living areas are decorated with simple paper lamps and inviting sofa beds handcrafted by Scandinavian designers.

A clean sheet of paper later fills a clean bookshelf.

A clean sheet of paper later fills a clean bookshelf. credit: Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen

In one, a beautiful kitchen is seen that showcases dark green cabinets that complement the dining room’s grain and pink tones. A plant adds a pop of green to the room. Rietnergen says that Scandinavian and Japanese design emphasize the importance of nature, not only through colors such as light reds, greens and soft whites, but also through the use of materials like linen and wood to build an atmosphere of peace.

Hygge and wabi-sabi

The key to Japandi’s design is creating something that’s decorated without being pretentious — in a place that’s beautiful but where you can “feel at home and relax,” says Rietnergen, owner The Instagram page @japandi.interior boasts about 450,000 followers.

Doing so involves two design principles: “hygge,” a Danish and Norwegian word that refers to the feeling of coziness and warmth, and “wabi-sabi,” the Japanese concept of acceptance of failures.

To achieve something, it is important to finish, says Rietnergen, referring to the Japanese cleaning expert Marie Kondo whose home organization methods became a global trend after the success of her Netflix show, ” Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” Rietnergen, like Kondo, recommends treating cleaning as a chore and more of a celebration — and a time to think about whether you’re happy with the things around you.

Japandi style celebrates craftsmanship, whether it’s Isamu Noguchi’s light sculptures or Carl Hansen’s furniture, whose bone chairs sell for thousands of dollars. But Rietnergen emphasizes that the aesthetic can be achieved by those decorating a budget. After all, he says, it’s a faith-driven article that “less is more.”

Soft white tones are combined with wood.

Soft white tones are combined with wood. credit: Wij Zijn Kees

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Rather than buying mass-produced furniture that won’t last, Rietnergen recommends buying second-hand while keeping those unique pieces you’ll love for years. And, in any case, the beauty of Japandi design is that there is nothing important to follow, adds the author.

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“Everyone has a different definition of home and Japan,” he said. “It’s important to have the courage to make your own choices. Your home is not a showroom and should not be a copy of something you’ve seen. It’s important to mix personal things and things. ”

Found: Cocoon

Living in Japan: Japanese Tradition. Scandinavian design,” published by Lannoo, is available now.

Top Image: Interiors by MENU Space.


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