Inspirations from around the world- Japan

When the minimalistic design concept comes to mind, some look to the north for inspiration through a Scandinavian approach; others choose the eastern influence from Japan. Japanese design thinking has distinct style characteristics, which is mostly all zen, a balance for peacefulness.

The interior design décor focuses on modesty, simplicity and natural materials. It promotes an unburdened lifestyle giving up clutter from our surroundings. Japanese interiors give importance to elegant light colours and laconic forms. The room appeals to the soul that craves a simple, structured space with minimal distractions. 

Location and climate

Japan is an island country comprising an archipelago along the East Asia Pacific coast. Japan has a climate ranging from subarctic in the north to subtropical climate in the south. The north has warm summer with chilly snowy winters; the east experiences hot and humid summer and snowy winter. The western part of Japan has hot and humid summers with moderately cold winters. 


Interior décor in Japan was highly influenced by China, especially from the 8th to 12th centuries. It developed further along lighter, more unsympathetic and elegant lines. It has changed slightly since the medieval days.

The aesthetics stem from the principles of Japanese Shinto and Chinese Taoism. Japanese culture is diverse and vibrant, but this doesn’t translate through the interiors. It is quite the opposite that is simplicity and minimalism.

Colour, Style and Material

The design concept key to Japanese interior design is called “Ma”. It involves striking a balance between available open space and furniture and other objects. The use of this approach helps to remove clutter and clear the place. It enhances the calmness in the room, along with a feeling of being more inviting and warmer.  

Source- Pinterest-Image 1-
; Image ; Image

Bringing nature into the indoors, The Japanese pick up colours from nature. The most predominant colours are shades of wooden brown and greens indicative of plants. Floorings is usually wood or grey stone; instead of solid walls, the use of opaque screens helps to separate spaces. The colour palette chosen is neutral and subtle, mostly restricted to light tones. 

Source- Pinterest- ; Image 2-; Image 3-

There is a belief in the Japanese culture that natural materials have their own language. If communicated with them, their beauty connects with the occupant’s soul and enriches it with serenity. A typical Japanese house makes use of unpainted wood to keep the grains exposed. They also feature ceramic, cast iron element, and concrete surfaces.

Key Design Features 

  • An experience of a feeling of lightness in design is both literally and figuratively. The construction using minimum material adds weightlessness and emotional light-heartedness.
  • Lighting the interiors is an imperative aesthetical characteristic. Illumination with daylight conveys a visual drama to impact the emotions of the occupants. Natural light is enhancing of the relationship with the organic materials used. 
Source- Image 1 -Pinterest-
  • Space is a limited commodity in Japan. The city dwellers have to make do with tiny homes. It opens up an opportunity for innovation and creativity. Modular living has become very popular in Japan. The house serves to multifunctional activities of a household. It allows a compact space to have optimum use and adds an element of dynamism.
Japanese concept of "Ma"; Source- Pinterest-
  • The Japanese embrace the concept of nothingness; the void is a subtle element of design. Interior designer should not shy away from emptiness. The free space helps link and balance the physical objects of the home. 
Source- Pinterest-
  • The right amount of detailing makes the whole idea of minimalism. Plain and modest requires sophisticated detail. Japanese interiors hold craftmanship at the crux of design. This skill requires to make the unnecessary but essential as unseen. The intricate design of Japanese joinery makes the two elements appear one seamlessly. The wooden furniture might seem simple, but the detail is deeply considerate.
  • White is the most prevalent theme of a Japanese design; it is delicate and fragile. The educed use of vibrant colours brings attention to the form and structure of the objects. White is an amalgamation of all colours, and yet it has no colour.
  • The most iconic element of Japanese elements is Shoji - the sliding screens. The fundamental purpose of Shoji is that it allows light to transcend through it. 
Source- Pinterest- Image 1- ; Image
  • The entrance of any Asian home includes space for shoe removal. It is often at a lower level area than the rest of the house to prevent dust and dirt from entering. The entrance acts as a transition from outdoor to indoor.
  • Thick straw and finely woven rush, along with cloth border, makes the Tatami flooring. The standard tatami mat has two different types of proportions, the first is a 2:1 ratio, and another is half of the latter.
  • The furniture is humble, includes moveable floor cushions and are low to the ground. 
  • A common feature of a Japanese home is a rock garden. It consists of rocks, water elements and some greenery with sand or gravel. It replicates the spirit of nature and inspires meditation. 

You may also like