Japanese minimalism is a philosophy that emphasises limiting possessions to the absolute necessities in order to keep life simple, orderly, and uncluttered. It is influenced by traditional Zen Buddhism in Japan and is evident in a variety of aspects of daily living, including their architecture and dress choices.
Having a Zen state of mind is somewhat a benchmark that each human wants to achieve in their lifetime. Our chaotic and fast-paced life sometimes feels devoid of the most basic thing – Peace. Originating from a branch of Buddhism that emphasises the importance of a decluttered mind that views the world with utmost clarity. The ultimate purpose of it boils down to finding happiness within.
To ‘clean’ the mind, it becomes imperative to declutter the surroundings that we spend the most time in, which is our Home. Zen philosophy is the origin of the minimalist movement which has been adopted by the Japanese people for centuries. Their homes are an aesthetic paradise that is calm, balanced and serene. Here are some fundamental elements that are an inherent part of their architecture and design.
1. Use of Natural Elements
Wood and Japanese interiors go hand in hand as it is the most used material when constructing a space. Homes are hardly painted and use different hued stains to make the wood coloured. Other natural elements are bamboo, stones and straw since they provide a deep connection with forests which are held sacred in the Japanese religious culture. These materials are great for insulation which keeps the house warm in winter and cool in summer.
To replicate this in your own home you can opt for more wooden furniture that is stained naturally rather than painting them.
2. Utilitarian Furniture
Japanese homes have a distinct architectural style and even their furniture are highly utilitarian. With the wabi-sabi concept of simplicity, many homes still have movable furniture like floor cushions but now modernistic houses have actual beds and sofas that are low to the ground.
The entrance to their homes has an elevated area that unspokenly prompts the guests to remove their shoes. This also makes their houses relatively dust free as dirt doesn’t seep in easily. To save more space, the traditional use of Shoji which are elegantly painted rice paper sheets embedded in a wooden frame makes it a convenient sliding door. For more ease now, glass sliding doors are used to make the room more breathable.
3. Unfiltered Natural Lighting
To make any room bright with more positivity and warmth, natural lighting is the key element. Since the Japanese people reside in smaller homes, large open windows give an illusion of a large space. You can incorporate skylights, big window panels and Shoji which disperse light in an opaque fashion. Installing Shoji in the rooms is a great way to not obstructive the flow of natural light. On days with too much sun, you can opt for fine and gauzy curtains rather than bulky ones.
4. Use of Greenery
A beautiful and well-maintained rock garden is the pride of Japanese households. To make the interiors even more nature friendly you can add eclectic plants like Bonsai trees, ferns, vertical plants and more. Plants provide much-needed oxygen and freshness to the home and also beautify the room.
The famous Japanese rock gardens consist of concentric patterns in the sand that fosters peace along with rocks, water, wood and plants of different sizes. Ikebana or the art of flower arrangement can be placed on the dining table or the house entrance for more colour.
5. Open Spaces or the concept of Ma
The concept of ‘Ma’ holds much significance in the Japanese sensibility which is a design style that creates a natural flow of the order of even the smallest items in the room. It demonstrates that everything should have a purpose where they can be placed in a manner that perfectly aligns with the flow. The furniture should not crowd each corner of the room rather it should just be on one or two walls while the rest is free from clutter.
6. Minimalism through colours
White has been always presented as a colour of peace and serenity which is what Zen philosophy can be described as. The colour always induces a calming feeling which is the very essence of what a home should represent. It has become a common truth that shades of white make a space looker bigger than it is.
It is because shades of white express a sense of serenity and elegance. It is the most basic of colours and it induces a feeling of calm. You can incorporate this principle by sticking to white cabinets, cupboards, walls etc.
Having done her Bachelor’s in Technology, Shruti always has an inclination towards implementing technology in day to day life. Being a business owner and homemaker she is superb at multitasking and manages the sourcing and operations of the company. On the personal front, she is very fond of reading, gardening, cooking and drawing. Through her worldview, she is always brewing fresh content in her mind with her hobbies reflecting in her work.