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

written by Hanna Pham, CNN

The relaxed cleanness of Scandinavian interiors and the simple beauty of traditional Japanese décor have both made them staples of modern home design. Now, there is a growing trend that combines the two: “Japandi”.

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

“I think a lot of people were looking for a more relaxing style,” Laila Rietnergen, author of the new book “Japandi Living,” said in an email interview. “The quiet, understated aesthetics of the Japandi style and more durable craftsmanship items perfectly fit these needs.”

A pot of tea from the floor on an elegant wooden table.

A pot of tea from the floor on an elegant wooden table. attributed to him: Wig Zen Kiss

Zeitgeist, it seems, this fusion of design dates back to the 1860s, Reitnergen said. It traces the aesthetic roots of Danish naval lieutenant William Carstensen, who visited Japan as the country opened up after two centuries of self-isolation. It was his book Capital of Japan and the Japanese that first compelled Danish designers to travel to Japan, Reitnergen said, where they discovered that the two cultures valued simplicity and natural beauty.

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Fast forward to today, and contemporary interior designers are rediscovering commonalities in their penchant for neutral tones, natural materials, and minimalist décor.

In addition to offering readers practical advice, Rietnergen’s book provides dozens of photos of immaculate Japandi-style homes. Adorned with delicate paper lamps and eye-catching cream sofas handcrafted by Scandinavian designers, the living spaces are just as comfortable and elegant.

Thin paper trailing complements an elegant bookshelf.

Thin paper trailing complements an elegant bookshelf. attributed to him: Jonas Pierre Paulsen

In one, the sleek kitchen peeks out to reveal the clutter-free light brown cabinetry that complements the dining room’s wheat and yellow. The plant adds a touch of green to the room. Scandinavian and Japanese design emphasize the importance of nature, says Rietnergen, not only through colors like light browns, tans, and soft whites, but also by using materials like linen and wood to create an atmosphere of calm.

Hygge and wabi-sabi

The key to Japandi design is to create something subtly ornate without feeling empty—in a space that’s chic but where you can “feel at home and relax,” said Rietnergen, whose Instagram page @japandi.interior has nearly 450,000 followers.

Doing so revolves around two design principles: “hygge,” a Danish and Norwegian term for feeling cozy and warm, and “wabi-sabi,” the Japanese concept of accepting imperfections.

To achieve either, it’s essential to get rid of clutter, said Reitnergen, quoting Japanese organizing expert Marie Kondo whose home organizing methods became a worldwide phenomenon following the success of her Netflix show, “Tidy Up with Marie Kondo.” Rietnergen, like Kondo, recommends treating tidying up less as a chore and more as a celebration—and a chance to reflect on whether the items around you make you happy.

Japandi’s style also celebrates craftsmanship, whether it’s delicate light sculptures by Isamu Noguchi or furniture by Carl Hansen, whose wishbone chairs sell for thousands of dollars. But Rietnergen stresses that the aesthetic 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 tones and brown tones are paired with a tree.

Soft white tones and brown tones are paired with a tree. attributed to him: Wig Zen Kiss

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Instead of buying cheap, mass-produced furniture that won’t last, Rietnergen suggests buying secondhand but saving those few special pieces that you can cherish for years. However, the beauty of Japandi’s design, the author added, is that there are no strict standards to follow.

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“Every house and interpretation of Japandi’s style is different,” she said. “It’s really important to be daring to make your own decisions. Your house isn’t a showroom and shouldn’t be a put-up copy of something you’ve seen. An important part is adding personal items and elements.”

Credit: Cocoon

Japandi Living: Japanese Traditions. Scandinavian designPublished by Lannoo, now available.

Top image: Interiors from MENU Space.


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