The Principles of Japanese Design

A word that is often used to describe all things Japanese: Zen. To be zen is to be relaxed, without worrying about things that cannot be changed. It means informal, calm and peaceful.

Unsurprisingly, Japanese design reflects exactly these principles. When it comes to the home, it revolves around clean living. It’s simplicity at its best. Our Modern Japanese Space style, Nara, incorporates functional but beautiful design for those who enjoy a zen way of life.

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Pre-Designed Space: Modern Japanes
Pre-Designed Space: Modern Japanese

The foundations of Japanese design are based on several principles. Here are some of them:


modern japanese, japanese characters, kanso

Simplicity or lack of clutter. Essentially, this principle refers to the fact that often leaving something out or taking something away can actually add to your space.


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The beauty of the natural form. Don’t look for artificial or design that is “forced”. This principle isn’t about nature in its raw form but more design using natural materials in a purposeful way.


modern japanese aesthetic, fukinsei

Asymmetry or irregularity. Things don’t have to balance in the literal sense – you can find beauty in elements that don’t perfectly match or don’t look complete.


modern japanese interiors, office space, yugen

This principle takes on a few different forms. It describes the feeling you get when you see something beautiful or hear something profound. So if we take that and put it into the context of your home… do you feel Yugen when you walk into your living space?


modern japanese decor furniture, shibui

Beauty in the understated or subtle. Design doesn’t need to be over the top or elaborate to be stunning. Items that are described as Shibui often appear to be simple upon first glance but are actually made up of very subtle details.


modern japanese aesthetic, seijaku

Stillness, solitude, or finding energy in calm. Consider how you’d feel in a tranquil Japanese garden.

We can all agree that no matter your taste in design, we could all use some more of these principles in our everyday life. People often associate a Japanese aesthetic with a very stereotypical look but if we consider these principles, you’ll find that they can be applied in many ways to any kind of space or decor choices.

Try incorporating touches of Japanese design into your home and experience a piece of Zen for yourself. If these principles don’t help you, channel your inner Marie Kondo which we believe summarises them quite nicely: Does it spark joy?