Minimalists, meet the decorating mashup you never knew you needed. Blending the best of Scandinavian and Japanese designs, Japandi is the newest style popping up on Instagram feeds everywhere. The hybrid trend combines the concepts of hygge (a Danish word that refers to a sense of coziness and comfort) and wabi-sabi (a Japanese philosophy that embraces the beauty in imperfection) in fresh, modern ways. Although Japan and Scandinavia are oceans away geographically, the two regions share a lot in common when it comes to decor. Sleek silhouettes, muted color schemes, and well-crafted pieces made from natural materials feature heavily in both styles.
Scandinavian and Japanese cultures also share an appreciation for minimalistic, sustainable interiors. "In both styles, there's a thoughtfulness in design that emphasizes functionality and beauty, as well as simplicity and whimsy," says Jessica Thomas, style and design director at Better Homes & Gardens. "They both want to create something that feels timeless and lasting."
Tria Giovan Photography
However, it's the differences between Japanese and Scandinavian styles that bring depth and interest to this mashup. The two aesthetics balance and complement each other, with each offering something the other lacks. Japanese style offers rich colors that inject personality into notoriously neutral Nordic spaces. On the other hand, the rustic elements of Scandinavian design warm up the sleek surfaces that can make Japanese style feel a bit cold.
In both styles, there's a thoughtfulness in design that emphasizes functionality and beauty, as well as simplicity and whimsy.
As people increasingly embrace minimalistic principles in their lives and homes, Japandi style has arrived at just the right time.
Origins of Japandi Style
Japandi style's popularity in 2020 is a product of the current cultural zeitgeist. "Japan is going to be in the spotlight because of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and the popularity of Marie Kondo on Netflix, so the Japanese culture has been gaining more traction here recently," Thomas says.
Although the hybrid aesthetic has only recently started to gain traction as an established decorating style, it's a natural partnership. "Minimalist and mid-century designers have always been inspired by the design culture of Japan, so the cross between Scandinavian and Japanese design is rooted in a storied tradition," says Alessandra Wood, vice president of style at Modsy. "Today, in the Japandi style, we see more of a fusion of these two aesthetics, which makes them feel like equal partners in the space."
Minimalist and mid-century designers have always been inspired by the design culture of Japan, so the cross between Scandinavian and Japanese design is rooted in a storied tradition.
How to Achieve Japandi Style
To incorporate this trend into your space, start with a high-contrast color scheme that features saturated neutrals and small hints of color. Choose furniture with clean lines and dramatic shapes, like a sculptural dining chair or curved floor lamp, to make a strong statement. Look for pieces that are simply but thoughtfully designed and made with high-quality materials. "This trend embraces craftsmanship and celebrates simple, natural beauty," says Cynthia Diaz, product manager at Living Spaces, a home furniture store. "You'll find a mix of blonde and dark woods with linear grains to create a subtle yet textured look. Shapes are uncomplicated with clean curves and joints."And don't forget to layer in plenty of natural touches, like potted houseplants and raw wood accents.
Another key to nailing the Japandi trend: embrace minimalism. "Less is more when considering this design style," says interior designer Michelle Lisac. She suggests decorating with just a few key pieces in each room and maintaining very little clutter. When accessorizing, choose items, such as handmade pottery pieces or a functional wall clock, that serve a purpose beyond simply decoration.
Above all, intention and quality are paramount. "Step one is to invest in well-made, sustainable pieces that achieve the look," Wood says. "Step two is to combine elements from each culture without overcrowding the space."
Merging eastern zen and Scandi comforts, this timeless take on minimalism captures the best of both parts of the world.