Japandi living room with view

Japandi Style: What it Is and How to Use It In Your Interior Design

If you are wondering what Japandi is, then you’re in luck. As an interior designer, Japandi is my new favorite style. Its look and feel pick up on earlier trends like wabi-sabi, minimalism, mid-century modern, and Scandinavian and Danish designs, all of which I love. It’s also an aesthetically pleasing mixture of simple, less-is-more ingredients that create a more natural and enduring look. There is beauty in time and history, and Japandi captures both in style.

This article is your guide to Japandi style. I break down what it is, how it started, and the characteristics and elements that define Japandi interior design so that you can create the look at home, work, or both, such as in your home office setup.

Key Takeaways

  • Japandi combines the best of Japanese and Scandinavian design.
  • It emphasizes simplicity, minimalism, and the use of natural materials.
  • The style is both visually pleasing and functional.
  • The characteristics and design elements bring a sense of calm and balance.

What is Japandi Style?

A room done in japandi style with sofas and tables

Japandi is a fusion of Japanese and Scandi (Scandinavian) design. The two are an ideal match. They are tightly focused on natural, minimalistic living. The floorplans, furniture, and accessories feature natural materials and a less-is-more aesthetic. Both also create a calm, soothing experience with soft colors, textures, and personal touches. The Zen experience of Japanese design also matches the Scandinavian (aka Scandi) philosophy of hygge, a focus on coziness and comfort to improve well-being.

Japandi blends the modern, sleek, and geometric design principles of Scandinavian design with more enduring and solid materials of Japandi to evoke more permanence. For example, a large rock sculpture may work as a fountain next to a Carl Hansen Lounge Chair, or a wabi-sabi bowl may be a centerpiece on a Danish-style dining table.

Scandinavian and Japanese styles blend so flawlessly that I’m surprised Japandi wasn’t a thing years ago. It seems inevitable that the two would get together, and their lovechild has been a hit. Still, this style differs from other trends that come and go. With Japandi’s roots in two internationally popular and enduring styles, I’m betting that Japandi is here to stay.

History of Japandi Style

Mt. Fuji in Japan and a nearby temple

Japandi became a thing during the winter of 2020, thanks to COVID-19. People started redecorating their homes during lockdown to create a calmer, serene home experience for improved long-term usage. But the origins of Japandi date back further, and like the word Japandi itself, Japan has been a big part of it. 

Back in the late 1800s, Japan lifted its 220-year-old closed-border policies with the world, called sakoku. Danish designers and creatives visited the country, and soon, Japanese-inspired design started popping up Danish life. While Japan and Scandinavia are geographically distant, their design philosophies parallel: both cultures value simplicity, functionality, and a deep connection to nature.

Over time, this love of nature and simple forms culminated in the Scandinavian design movement in the mid-1900s. Nordic designs coincided with America’s growing love of modern design thanks to influences like Frank Lloyd Wright – a lover of open floorplans and Japan’s emphasis on minimal design and nature – as well as the Bauhaus in Germany, an art school that emphasized clean, less-is-more designs. Soon, the same philosophies were used in mid-century modern designs in the US.

Since then, we’ve seen a stronger move toward minimal interiors and a growing push for natural and organic materials due to environmental concerns and as a way to balance out today’s tech lifestyles. Biomorphic design and Japandi style fit right in.

Since COVID, the increase of people working and living from home and the continued drive toward a more comfortable home experience created a shift toward displaying handmade items and personal history. Cottagecore and Modern Farmhouse have become popular. The minimal wabi-sabi style from Japan fits right in. All of these factors helped boost interest in Japandi.

Characteristics of Japandi Interior Design

Japandi study with books and gray walls

Here’s a closer look at what defines Japandi style. After reading, you should be able to spot it and adopt it at home.

Japandi Aesthetic

At the heart of Japandi is minimalism. Clean lines, organic shapes, and uncluttered spaces let furniture and decor stand out to tell their own story. From a sleek coffee table to a sculptural chair, the focus is on grounded items with form and function, ensuring that every item has a purpose and adds value to the space.

Japandi Materials

Natural elements play a leading role. From light woods like oak and ash to bamboo and rattan, the materials show a deep love for nature and add warmth and texture to the interiors while beautifully promoting a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. In some cases, metal can be used, a common element in Zen design. The more history the item has, the better.

Japandi Color

Since Japandi is tightly focused on natural living, most colors are subdued and earthy – even more than Scandinavian tones. Neutral color palettes like beige, taupe, and soft gray are popular and punctuated by deeper hues like indigo or forest green. These muted colors create a calming, natural environment.

Elements of Japandi Interior Design

Japandi bedroom furniture with plant and screen

Japandi Furniture

Japandi furniture pieces are characterized by their minimalist design and functionality. Low-profile furniture, especially those made of light wood, dominates. Some examples include low-slung sofas, streamlined coffee tables, and chairs in linear or organic shapes void of excessive ornamentation. Desks blend style, functionality, and durability for ideal work performance.

Japandi Lighting

Natural light is a primary component. When it isn’t coming from windows, the unnatural light is subtle and ambient. Lighting strips, paper lanterns, floor lamps with fabric shades, and pendant lights are all popular. They create calm and shooting lighting while providing practical benefits like easier reading and working.

Japandi Accessories

As with the furniture and floorplans, the goal is less is more. Items are carefully chosen since each item makes a statement. Ceramic vases, bamboo trays, and handcrafted textiles are favorites, and you can find Japandi versions of anything you need for your home office setup. Each accessory is decorative as well as functional. Again, the more history it has, the better. Rustic items can be freely added in.

Japandi Rugs

Rugs are typically neutral, with subtle patterns that add physical and visual warmth and texture. Since Japandi is closely associated with nature and natural materials, materials like jute, wool, or cotton are often used.

Japandi Art

If you look online, you will see that Japandi seems to focus heavily on Japanese art styles, but that isn’t required. You can branch off as long as the look and feel of the art evoke Japandi style. The work is typically understated, purposeful, and meaningful while carrying a natural story. Examples include nature-inspired prints, line drawings, and wabi-sabi textured wall art. They complement Japandi color palettes, such as white, cream, beige, tan, brown, or black.

Japandi Wall Treatments

Going big with art is one option, and using screens is another, but slatted wall paneling is an easy way of surrounding yourself with the style while adding another handy benefit: silence. Many slatted wall panels double as sound absorbers for a blend of beauty and functionality. Slatted wall panels have become increasingly popular due to a boost in demand for wall paneling in general.

Japandi Plants

Both Scandi and Japanese designs value nature, including plants. From tall planted indoor plants to bonzai, greenery is synonymous with Japanese and Scandinavian interior design and lives large in Japandi.

Japandi Architectural Details

Natural light, sliding shoji screens, slatted wall panels, wooden beams, and open floor plans are just some of the elements found in Japandi homes. All of the elements bring warmth and richness.

Japandi Arrangements

Japandi room with pottery and furniture arrangements

Furniture, art, and accessory arrangement are all about creating balance and harmony. Furniture is carefully placed in its designated spot to ground users, ensuring intelligent functionality, flow, and ample open space. Each piece’s placement appears natural and purposeful.

Japandi Style: A Blend of Traditional and Modern Living

Though Japan and Scandinavia are on opposite sides of the globe, their design approaches bring them tightly together. And with two enduring stories enterwined, Japandi may remain a permanent design style.

It is also an enduring way to achieve a Zen-like balance at home and work while creating functional, serene, and beautiful spaces. By merging the best of Scandinavian and Japanese design, Japandi gives us a deep connection to nature in a way that will last.

So dive right in. Japandi will stand the test of time, making it an enduring choice for a simpler, more natural home experience.

What is the concept of Japandi Style?

Japandi is a design philosophy that blends Japanese and Scandi (Scandinavian) aesthetics. It emphasizes simplicity, functionality, and the use of natural materials.

What are the characteristics of Japandi Design Style?

Japandi is known for its minimalist approach, muted color palettes, and emphasis on functionality and natural materials.

What are the elements of Japandi Design?

Key elements include minimalist furniture, natural lighting, earthy accessories, neutral-colored rugs, and meaningful art pieces.

What are the Japanese interior design styles called?

Japanese interior design is often associated with styles like Zen, Wabi-Sabi, and Kanso, emphasizing simplicity, nature, and tranquility.