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The evolution of Scandinavian style: Japandi

Scandinavia and Japan seem very far apart geographically. However, on closer inspection, when it comes to design, they have a lot in common.

After all, simplicity and minimalism have always been the basis of Japanese decoration and Scandinavian style. The most interesting aspects of this mixture of styles are the harmony between the contrasting elements, between Japanese elegance and pure Scandinavian functionality, the mix of opposite colours and the different approach to working with materials.

From the union of these two aesthetic visions was born the term Japandi, a trend that was already fashionable a few years ago and which will become even more popular in 2021.

More than a style, the Japandi trend is a philosophy of life based on peace, harmony, the beauty of simplicity and the creation of functional spaces.

The result of this marriage of trends creates an atmosphere that is both calm and minimalist but also warm and welcoming.

Japandi-style materials


The Japanese style favours natural materials such as wood, stone, plant fibres, bamboo, cotton, ceramics and rice paper. The Scandinavian style is in line with the tradition of craftsmanship deeply rooted in the Nordic countries, which, although also based on the use of natural materials, mainly wood, does not reject the use of polymers. By discovering the Japanese style and the principle of Wabi-sabi, based on the search for beauty in imperfections, the Scandinavian style has evolved towards a form that favours a mixture of natural light woods, often raw, and dark woods such as walnut, polished and treated with polishing techniques in the Japanese tradition.

Ceramics, ubiquitous in Japanese decoration, are no longer about smooth surfaces, which is the Nordic aesthetic, but will  become more irregular. Natural fabrics without patterns such as linen and cotton will also take on a more rustic look.

The colour palette of the Japandi style


When it comes to colours, the two styles have distinct bases. Scandinavian style, constantly looking for light, favours white for coverings and decorations in interiors. Small touches of neutral colours such as grey and light wood tones are the exception. The Japanese, on the other hand, use a warmer and brighter palette that excludes white, uses black and red for lacquers, exploits the neutral tones of natural materials and does not ignore precious golden touches.

The result is a subtle palette characterised by the harmony of warm and cold tones, light and dark shades in which black and grey are used as an earthy base, with bright touches of blue, green and pink, which are carefully desaturated.

How to decorate in pure Japandi style?


"Less is more" is the watchword for pure Japandi style decoration. Few pieces of furniture, refined decoration... without forgetting comfort. Indeed, while both styles are champions of minimalism and sobriety in every category, the Scandinavian lifestyle, with its "hygge" philosophy, aims to create welcoming and comfortable spaces.

Choose low furniture such as small tables, sideboards and sofas with very short legs, as the Japanese style dictates, and with straight lines and simple shapes, as the Scandinavian style dictates.

Hang photographs and prints on the walls. Subjects that evoke the culture of the rising sun, landscapes, flowering branches, fish and birds are highly recommended. The aim is to give a light touch of colour to the walls.

Give plenty of space to ceramics, hand-made if possible. Vases, handmade, in natural colours, glazed or unglazed, are perfect to hold branches of cherry blossom or bamboo. For lighting, the perfect lamps are those inspired by oriental lanterns.

Why not choose an iconic piece like one of the rice-paper lamps from the Akai collection, designed by Isamu Noguchi more than 50 years ago for Vitra, which includes bedside lamps, floor-standing lamps and lighting columns.

Last but not least, you should not miss the green plants that bring a touch of freshness and brighten up an atmosphere that could become somewhat monotonous in the long run. Choose tropical plants of oriental origin such as orchids, oriental banana, Ficus Benjamina, Crassula Ovata or Jade tree. For an incomparable touch of elegance in a Japandi-style home, it is unthinkable not to use the emblematic product of Japanese botanical art: bonsai.