What is Japandi Interior Design?
Japandi is a design direction that emerged a few years ago across all creative industries. Fusing some of the most sought-after elements of Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics, a Japandi style brings a sense of serenity and harmony to any home.
A Japandi style blends the warm yet minimalist elements of Scandinavian design with the Japanese love of functionality and natural materials. Neutral colour palettes, texture variations and clean lines produce a look which is simple and minimalist, yet simultaneously warm and welcoming.
It is arguably the philosophy behind the Japandi aesthetic that has led to the style becoming so prominent in modern interior design. Feng shui, colour therapy, lighting design and natural materials have all been implemented by Black and Milk to create a unique space that beautifully encompasses both the Japandi philosophy and aesthetic. A Japandi style in design helps to create a spacious feel and calming ambience, a welcome respite from the chaos of the external world.
Black and Milk were enlisted to design and implement the interior of a one-bedroom apartment in Soho, the heart of London’s West End. The space provided a unique set of challenges, primarily due to the size and layout, as well as our client’s very specific needs.
Although small, the apartment lends itself very well to Japandi style . As a converted warehouse with floor-to-ceiling windows, the apartment already felt light and airy. We focused on enhancing the natural light and opening up the space, while seamlessly incorporating our client’s love of Asian design. In keeping with the Japandi Interior Design philosophy, all materials used throughout the apartment are cruelty-free, with an emphasis on sustainable and natural pieces.
As an added challenge, our client was a musician and required a soundproofed space for his grand piano. He also had a keen interest in feng shui, the idea that optimally balancing the energy in your environment can help you to feel happy, healthy and at home.
One of the main characteristics of Japandi interior design is a flexible use of space.
We had the challenge of maintaining the open plan and spacious feel while allowing our client privacy when required. This was achieved using sliding and bifold screens to separate the bedroom and dressing room from the living area. The screens are made from real Japanese rice paper, a material that transmits light yet allows the rooms to be separated.
By exposing the beams and raising the ceiling, we created more vertical space, which makes up for the relatively small footprint. Exposed beams make a beautiful statement, especially when they are in a contrasting colour to the rest of the home.
We used low-level furniture to open the apartment further and incorporate Japanese design principles. The low-level seating area, for instance, immediately creates more vertical space while also giving the apartment a relaxed and welcoming feel.
One of the key ways that Japandi style differs from traditional minimalist interior design is through its use of texture to bring warmth to the space. This is especially important in a home with neutral colours and the décor very simple. Incorporating various materials and finishes will add dynamism and character to the room.
The primary material used throughout the apartment is wood. From the flooring to the kitchen fittings and even the bathtub, wood and wood-effect pieces enhance the natural feel that represents both Scandinavian and Japanese interior design. The bespoke stained ash dining table makes a stunning centrepiece, beautifully accentuated by the soft pendant lights.
Other materials used throughout the home include steel, wool, felt, hemp and faux suede. The metal basin in the bathroom beautifully contrasts the wooden bathtub, whilst the soft textured wool rug in the bedroom adds a cosy and welcoming touch. These subtle variations in texture help elevate an otherwise simple space, whilst the natural materials used are a homage to the outside world, incorporating design principles from both the East and West.
Light is one of the key considerations in every interior. Still, it’s particularly paramount in Japandi interior design, where, due to the minimalist décor, it plays a bigger role in elevating the space.
With floor-to-ceiling windows, this apartment already benefited from a lot of natural light. We focused on enhancing this and providing enough light for darker days and evenings.
We installed LED strips on top of each exposed beam. These reflect light upwards and back into the room, producing a soft light instead of the harsher glare of exposed or visible light fittings. All additional lighting in the apartment is soft and simple, seamlessly integrated to produce a gentle glow. If needed, our client can adjust the brightness using the dimmer switches.
We implemented several additional loose lights, such as the floor, table and wall lamps. These create extra layers in the simple interior, enhancing the warm, welcoming and relaxing atmosphere.
In a Japandi-style home, every piece has a function or, in many cases, a multifunction.
The bespoke window bench opens up the space and creates a sociable seating area, yet it also provides additional storage. The simple floating shelves strike the perfect balance of aesthetics and functionality.
Elsewhere in the apartment, the focus on functionality is clear. The acoustic wall helps to soundproof the room for our client, allowing him to play his grand piano without disturbing the neighbours. It also adds a unique texture and adheres to our neutral colour palette. The acoustic curtains soundproof the room and allow our client to relax without disturbing the bustling Soho streets.
There are two main techniques often implemented when it comes to the use of colour in Japandi interior design. Many designers use a neutral colour palette, bringing the character in varying textures. A neutral, monochrome interior is accessible to the eye and peaceful.
Another approach is to use contrasting colours to define the area or elevate the space. The colour palette remains very simple but is more saturated.
In the Soho Loft project, we implemented the latter method, separating the night and day areas by contrasting the wall colour. The floor continues seamlessly from one area to the other; the space is connected, yet we can still differentiate between the two areas.
The accent colour we used throughout the apartment is anthracite. From the pendant lights framing the table to the vertical radiator and exposed beams, the black highlights work as a sharp and contemporary contrast to the neutral colour palette.
Feng Shui principles are often used in Japandi interior design. This ancient and somewhat complicated science aims to bring positive energy into the home. There are different techniques used to achieve harmony and balance.
One of the primary principles of Feng Shui is a separation between different areas of the home, which, in open-plan areas, can be a real challenge.
In this apartment, we used colour and sliding screens to separate the living room from the sleeping area, the yin from the yang. Yang spaces, such as the kitchen and living area, are active and social, whereas yin spaces are passive and rest-orientated.
The black walls and accents in the bedroom help to separate the yin sleeping area from the bright and neutral yang living area. Contrasting colours and Japanese rice paper screens allow the rooms to be divided if needed.
More subtle Feng Shui principles can be seen elsewhere in the apartment. The large, rectangular dining table is framed and balanced by rounded pendant lights, while a sleek black handrail and soap holder take up the often wasted area of wall space next to the bathroom basin.
By incorporating both Japandi style and Feng Shui principles, we created a tranquil space for our client, a calming respite from the chaotic energy of Soho.