Japanese Influences On Interior Design
The main Japanese influences on western interior design for most people are Zen and
Feng Shui, so we will take a short look at them below.
Zen Interior Design
One of the first Japanese inluences you might think of is Zen. If you would like to convey some
aspects of Zen into your home, the interior design will have to be minimalistic, peaceful and tranquil. Nature will
be an important part of creating that atmosphere.
Minimalism means plain, basic colours, nothing strident. Furniture and ornaments ought to be kept
to a minimum too.
People associate Zen with Japan, but actually it is Chinese in origin. Zen is a form of Buddhism,
so it is not really a style, but a life style, a state of being, a form of religion. Zen teaches meditation in
order to gain enlightenment.
Therefore, in order to create aspects of what we call Zen into your interior design, you will have
to clear all non-essential articles out of your room and decorate with plain colours that will not sidetrack your
mind. This is harder to accomplish than you might think, but do your best to picture what a monk's cubicle would be
like to live in.
It is almost certainly practical to make over only one room in your house in what we call a Zen
style, because most Westerners would find it hard to live without all their 'stuff'.
No knick-knacks, very little furniture and plain colours are the order of the day. So, it would be
best to start by taking everything out of the room, because it is easier to put a few items back than to take a lot
out. Then paint the walls white or off-white, maybe 'smoke white' - a very pale shade of gray.
An inspirational photograph with a Zen proverb could go on a wall. Perhaps something by Matsuo
Basho like: 'Do not seek to walk in the footsteps of the wise men of old, seek what they sought'.
Feng Shui Interior Design
Feng Sui is the second of the Japanese influences that may cross your mind. 'Feng Shui' is usually
translated into English as 'Wind and Water' and it is the art of arranging items to realize harmony. Once again,
Feng Shui started in China, not Japan.
The real Feng Shui devotee uses the art not only for interior design but also to select a house and
a burial place. Devotees believe that Feng Shui has an effect on wellbeing, wealth and personal relationships.
Early Chinese Feng Shui employed astronomy to find the symmetry between man and the universe and
Feng Shui measuring devices have been found in tombs going back to 278 BC
Modern Feng Shui seeks to locate spots with good 'Qi' (pronounced 'Chi'). These locations are
deemed to be good for humans to live in, others should not be settled but left as nature intended.
Qi means 'air' and is used to describe the flow of energy, perhaps founded on solar energy. It is
the balance between two bodies and is the principal behind Feng Shui. The opposites in this balance are the 'Ying'
and the 'Yang'.
Feng Shui was almost unheard of in the West until Richard Nixon went to China in 1972.
Unfortunately, it has been re-invented in the West and now has been mixed up with magic and mysticism in the