The Japandi style – Japanese and Scandinavian design cues combined in an exceptionally warm and tactile blend.

Minimalism, wabi-sabi, hygge, clean lines, and natural materials. With Japandi, all of these things come together to create an aesthetic that has become increasingly more popular over the years. While we’re not exactly fans of  “Japandi” – and fusion styles in general – we can’t deny that it elegantly uses the very best elements of Japanese interior design and Scandinavian design to create something new.

Considering how Japanese and Scandinavian design have a lot in common, the birth of “Japandi” came naturally. However, perhaps it will surprise you to learn that this style has its origins in the 19th century. With Japan opening its borders in 1850s, travelers from all over the world began visiting the country; among them, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian artists and designers coming from Scandinavia, who found an affinity with Japanese culture and design traditions. And the rest is history – but more on that below.

When it comes down to it, the Japandi design trend is so popular precisely because it brings together the beautiful minimalism of Japanese design and the functionality and warmth of Scandinavian design. Hygge, but with a touch of sophistication and refined elegance. Or wabi-sabi, but with the coziness of soft fabrics and textured surfaces.

Exploring Japandi, Where East Meets West - Gessato
Birds Nest House, Timm Architecture

What is the Concept of Japandi?

According to author Laila Rietbergen, who wrote the Japandi Living book, the origins of the concept of Japandi goes much further back than one would think, seeing how popular the style is currently. More specifically, all the way back to the mid-1800s, when Japan opened its borders after two centuries of isolation. Among the visitors were Scandinavian designers and artists, who discovered, and then fell in love with, Japanese culture and design as well as the country’s crafting traditions.

As for the term, Japandi is a portmanteau of Japanese and Scandi, the two styles it references. But what about wabi-sabi and hygge?

Wabi-sabi has Chinese Zen Buddhism origins. While originally it had more somber connotations, over the centuries it started gaining a different meaning with more positive nuances. Now, it refers to impermanence, the natural beauty of imperfection, modesty, and austere beauty – a Japanese aesthetic and world view that is the perfect counterpart to the concepts of Nordic design. Like wabi-sabi, hygge wasn’t born in the country that it is now associated with. The word comes from old Norwegian, and originally referred to “well-being.” The modern sense of the word also embodies a sense of well-being, but it’s more specific: coziness, comfort, the spirit of conviviality, and the joy of spending quality time with family and friends.

Japandi combines these two concepts, wabi-sabi and hygge, in a new style. It blends the rugged beauty of handmade ceramic objects and stoneware with the softness of linen; the textures of a dark timber coffee table with the smooth finish of porcelain cups; or the clean lines and angular forms of a solid wood sofa frame with the plush coziness of thick, padded cushions.

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Key Elements of Japandi Interior Design

Like a Japanese or a Scandinavian interior, a Japandi interior is easy to recognize – or to (re)create – by understanding its core elements.

Minimalism and Clean Lines

Japandi style homes feature minimalist furniture and lighting with clean lines and no unnecessary details. Apart from being timeless and easy to use alongside other items, each minimalist design also help to create a light, airy look in a room. Which takes us to another important point: decluttering. Not only are Japandi interiors simple and beautiful, but they’re also free of clutter, with only essential items and decorative objects that maintain the warm minimalist Japandi aesthetic.

Natural Materials and Neutral Colors

Both Japanese minimalism and Scandinavian style promote the use of natural elements and materials. Think solid wood, stone, paper, linen, rattan, wool, and ceramics. Additionally, these styles make the most of any neutral color palette with tones of beige, off-white, cream, and taupe. Darker hues are usually reserved for earthy tones or splashes of green and muted blue, which add the perfect contrast to the main palette.

Functional and Aesthetic Balance

Regardless of color palette or materials, Japandi style living spaces showcase the importance of good design. While undeniably gorgeous, these interiors enhance functionality and everyday comfort with practical furniture and multifunctional products. Tables with hidden storage or a compact stool that transforms into a handy side table. Furthermore, quality craftsmanship ensures not only the longevity of the furniture, lighting and finishes, but also guarantees the enduring beauty of a Japandi decor.

Rooms in Japandi Style

The Japandi Living Room

For a Japandi living room, it’s important to choose quality furniture like sofas, armchairs and lounge chairs that enhance your comfort and the comfort of your guests.  A beautiful Japandi floor lamp along with wall and ceiling lighs can easily create an exceptionally cozy mood. Natural light that flows through larger windows puts every Japandi style object and item in the best light. Plush, fluffy rugs and/or thin rugs made of natural fibers can add amazing texture to the material palette. Likewise, greenery can bring a bit of nature to a Japandi living room and enhance the feeling of tranquility. Plant pots can be small or oversized, but they are usually made of warm ceramic.

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The Japandi Bedroom

A Japandi bedroom can significantly improve the feeling of coziness and calm, especially if you’re using soft, natural textiles in light, neutral colors. A low, Japanese style wood bed frame with or without integrated bedside tables for a book and a lamp helps you create a beautiful sanctuary that can greatly improve your well-being. Nature inspired artworks, soft lighting, and minimal furniture complete the Japandi look.

Exploring Japandi, Where East Meets West - Gessato
Beijing Home, Shankou Architecture

The Japandi Kitchen

In a Japandi kitchen, the focus should be on functionality, clean lines and simplicity, without forgetting about natural materials and tactile finishes. Here, minimalist cabinets – with concealed handles, for example – and built-in shelving units that keep everything organized are a must. Ceramic dinnerware and utensils that are as easy on the eyes as they are practical are also a great choice.

Exploring Japandi, Where East Meets West - Gessato

The Japandi Bathroom

Like the bedroom, a well-designed Japandi bathroom provides a feeling of serenity and calm without sacrificing function. In this room, you can easily create a spa-like décor with a freestanding or sunken bathtub; solid wood stools and mats made of natural fibers; cascading greenery that flows from a suspended plant pot; and light, neutral tones enhanced by carefully placed lights or even a skylight. Essentials designed with a minimalist aesthetic can easily complete the decor, whether it’s a simple toilet paper holder or a tray for soap.

Furniture and Decor in Japandi Style

Japandi Furniture

When it comes to Japandi furniture, simple is best. In a living room, you can easily pair a cozy sofa with a low coffee table and a tea serving set. For a dining room, you can choose a minimalist dining table and more creatively designed chairs. In a bedroom, you can’t go wrong with a low bed frame crafted from solid wood. These pieces of furniture usually pair angular wood shapes with soft upholstery and thick cushions – the perfect blend of Japanese and Scandinavian elements. Practical console units and dressers can help you keep your home clutter-free and organized while also adding elegance to your home decor.

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Japandi Decor

In a Japandi decor, minimalism goes hand in hand with function. For example, practical furniture that can adapt to different needs, like a bench that transforms into a daybed; a bed frame with a built-in table for a lamp; or a wood board that can double as a serving tray or table. Crafted by hand and boasting an array of textures, furniture, lighting and decorative items in a Japandi living space defy the passage of time to look gorgeous for a long time. Neutral colors and the addition of plants can instantly brighten any Japandi room.

Lighting in Japandi Interiors

Natural light plays an important role in Japandi interiors. However, artificial lighting is also important. Japandi lamps and pendant lights provide a great way to add creative accent to a room’s decor. Think organic and artistic forms; classic shade shapes crafted from unconventional materials like paper, fabric or wood; and tall floor lamps that you can move with ease to illuminate only certain areas.

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Achieving Japandi Style in Different Spaces

Small Living Spaces

The Japandi style is fantastic for any space, from large to compact. However, small apartments and even small rooms can greatly benefit from having a Japandi decor. That’s because this style puts an emphasis on simple, minimalist designs, airy spaces and on the use of only essential items. If you have a small apartment, choosing smart storage solutions is a clever idea. Japandi furniture offers functionality and flexibility while also allowing you to easily declutter your home.

Color Palette and Decor Choices

Like we mentioned previously, Japandi is all about light, neutral colors. A typical Japandi palette can include beige and cream hues as well as earthy brown tones, grays, shades of green, and even darker accents of navy blue. As for decor choices, picking textured objects and materials is a great idea, whether it’s a wicker chair, a jute rug, or a stoneware vase.

Comparisons with Other Styles

Japandi vs. Boho

While Japandi and Boho do have many elements in common, they are extremely different. In terms of similarities, these two styles share the same focus on natural materials and rustic-style items, most notably wicker and rattan furniture; natural textiles in light colors; and the use of plants to create pockets of nature in a living space. But while Japandi is minimalist and tranquil, Boho is vibrant and often playful, featuring an eclectic blend of furniture and decorative objects. Finally, Boho style rooms often feature a series of bold patterns, whereas the Japandi interior design style usually highlights the beauty of natural materials and rarely features patterns other than the textures of wood grain, ceramic objects, or natural textiles.

Japandi vs. Mid-Century Modern

Similarly to Boho, Mid-Century Modern interiors often feature bold colors and striking color contrasts. Eye-catching patterns can also create focal points. Compared to Japandi, this style also features more dynamic forms, geometric shapes and asymmetric elements, along with sculptural lighting and artistic décor items. Japandi and Mid-Century Modern interiors share a focus on natural materials, minimalism, and uncluttered spaces.

FAQs and Practical Tips

Is the Japandi style expensive?

Like with any style, you can create a Japandi decor on a budget. While handmade furniture crafted from solid wood can be expensive, you only need to find a few quality products that will last. After all, this style highlights the importance of living simply, so you can use only essential items to create the desired look. Plus, since Japandi is a minimalist style, finding versatile furniture, lighting and decorative items is easy.

Practical steps to start incorporating Japandi elements into your home decor

If you want to transform a room into a Japandi style space, you can simply start by removing any unnecessary objects and by decluttering your home. Choose functional furniture that enhances the decor with a minimalist design. Use products made of natural materials and select items with contrasting smooth and textured finishes. Favor neutral colors and complement lighter palettes with warm shades of brown and muted green.

Japandi-style furniture and decor

Perhaps the easiest way to create a Japandi decor is by combining Japanese- and Scandinavian-style products. There are plenty of high quality furniture and lighting options to choose from, with gorgeous designs created by designers and companies that cherish the concepts of wabi-sabi and hygge as much as they value sustainability and the durability of well-made, handcrafted objects. Sources of inspiration to bring your ideal decor to life can also include the work of designers like John Pawson or Norm Architects, even if they don’t belong to the Japandi style.

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