This minimalist decor style is one of 2021's hottest trends
Japandi is about using less, with purpose.
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When a design known for its natural minimalism meets one that appreciates no-fuss functionality, consider it a match made in heaven.
Welcome to Japandi, the perfect blend of simple Japanese and Scandinavian design aesthetics that’s now taking a seat at the (natural wood) table as the hottest home decor trend.
Based on rustic realism, Japandi is an artistic display of soothing form that also has function. Spaces are clean and bright with easygoing unfinished woods, well-placed bright colors, and well-curated design lines.
Unlike true minimalism, this isn’t an empty room. It’s an intentional one. Calming and peaceful palettes are typically chosen—and when brighter colors are incorporated, they are meaningful and subtle.
“Japan and Scandinavia are located on completely different parts of the globe,” says Living Spaces interior designer Shelby Greene. “Generally, the two couldn't be more different. [But] Japandi also makes a lot of sense. The minimalist comfort of Scandinavian combined with the weathered imperfections of Japan's wabi-sabi creates breathtaking simplicity. The values of each style so precisely bring out the other.”
With a place on Pinterest’s 2021 trend radar, we asked a few designers how to dig into the design.
Make contrast cohesive
Employ a yin-yang moment and use contrast for this decor trend. “Light and dark elements create contrast and, more importantly, balance,” explains Greene.
To highlight the Japanese and Scandinavian influence on their own, choose lighter colors for one style and darker colors for the other. “Keep the palette neutral and the materials natural so that the light/dark contrast stands out.”
Incorporate Japanese plants
“Native plants are an easily identifiable marker of Japanese style, so top off a Scandinavian table or dresser with vases of cherry blossoms or bamboo,” suggests Greene.
Choose a planter with a minimalist Scandinavian silhouette. Like Japandi itself, this pendant merges two forms while celebrating functionality. Plus, it's hanging, so it takes up zero counter space. Translation: less clutter and more Japandi airiness.
For less maintenance, instead incorporate native woods into your furniture, as seen in this arm chair crafted from cane plants into a barrel shape that befits the Scandinavian simplicity.
Keep things clean—both literally and figuratively
“Both cultures value simplicity and cleanliness in all areas of life. In Japandi, decluttering isn't just for looks; it's also to help you breathe easily and focus your mindset,” says Greene. “Make sure your space is decluttered, peaceful, and airy.”
Physical lines themselves should also stay simple and clean. Scandinavian influence takes the helm with its minimalist decor of simple and straightforward shapes allowing light to circulate throughout the room, and not get blocked by the clunky forms of heavy furniture pieces.
“Function and form trumps all in Japandi style which manifests itself in eco-friendly aesthetics and natural materials,” explains Rodney Hammond, Raymour & Flanigan director of e-commerce merchandising, operation and product content. “This trend is all about creating a feeling of art, nature, and simplicity in the home.”
And with today’s stay-at-home status, people crave an atmosphere that feels light, simple, and calming.
Look to nature for materials
According to Diana Viera, managing partner of NYC-based interior design company Italkraft, the key to mastering the Japandi design is truly sticking to the basics of minimalism: simple colors, reduced clutter, and soothing ambiance.
“Everything and every element in the home must have reason and not just be ornamental,” she says.
She recommends using a light natural wood, like a beautiful French white oak: “Carefully selected wood materials can bring the interior design to new levels. We utilize this specific wood for the feel of comfort and the simplicity of nature combined.”
Danish design brand Fritz Hansen works with a number of award-winning designers like Nendo, whose iconic pieces—this chair crafted from beach wood, for one—fuse Japanese cultures with Nordic aesthetic.
Also consider this solid ash April table designed by Alfredo Häberli for the Finnish Nikari, a nod to the Japanese influence of building furniture to be closer to the ground. Or this low Japandi queen bed by Mobilia made of Thai monkey pod wood.
Create pops of texture and color
While Japanese design leans towards neutral yet warm colors, your palette doesn’t have to fall flat. To elevate a room, Viera suggests sticking to the same color tone throughout but introducing different textures to add that pop and flare while remaining true to the Japandi design.
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