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
If you would like to bring some aspects of Zen into your home, the interior design will have to be minimalistic, serene and tranquil. Nature will be an important part of creating that atmosphere.
Minimalism means plain, basic colours, nothing loud. Furniture and ornaments ought to be kept to a minimum too.
People relate Zen with Japan, but actually it is Chinese in origin. Zen is a variety of Buddhism, so it is not really a style, but a life style, a state of being, a form of religion. Zen incorporates meditation in order to acquire enlightenment.
Therefore, in order to bring aspects of what we call Zen into your interior design, you will have to take all unnecessary articles out of your room and decorate with plain colours that will not sidetrack your mind. This is more difficult to accomplish than you might think, but do your best to picture what a monk’s cell would be like to live in.
It is probably sensible 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 ornaments, very little furniture and bland 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 emulsion the walls white or off-white, maybe ‘smoke white’ – a very light shade of gray.
An inspirational photograph with a Zen proverb could go on a wall. Maybe 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 Shui’ is usually translated into English as ‘Wind and Water’ and it is the art of arranging objects to realize harmony. Once again, Feng Shui started in China, not Japan.
The real Feng Shui disciple uses the art not only for interior design but also to select a house and a burial place. Students believe that Feng Shui has an effect on health, wealth and personal relationships.
Early Chinese Feng Shui employed astronomy to discover the equilibrium 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 places with good ‘Qi’ (pronounced ‘Chi’). These areas are deemed to be good for humans to live in, others should not be settled and left as nature intended.
Qi means ‘air’ and is used to describe the flow of energy, perhaps based on solar energy. It is the balance between two bodies and is the principal behind Feng Shui. The opposites in this equilibrium are the ‘Ying’ and the ‘Yang’.
Feng Shui was almost unheard of in the West until Richard Nixon went to China in 1972. Regrettably, it has been re-invented in the West and now has been mixed up with magic and mysticism in the USA
Owen Jones, the writer of this piece writes on several subjects, but is at present involved with researching wrought iron candelabra. If you would like to know more or check out great offers, please go to our website at Wrought Iron Light.