The Japandi style union between 'Jap' of Japan and 'andi' of Scandinavian
Design shouldn’t be trendy. Good design should last over time, until it wears out.
- Achille Castiglioni
Achille Castiglioni - one of the most important Italian designers - makes us think about the uniqueness of an object or its ability to remain etched and alive in people's minds even after many years. Being trendy isn't tricky, but being memorable isn't for everyone. Scandinavian design is one of the examples that best represents this concept.
Scandinavian design - born in the 1920s in Europe, precisely in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, then also incorporating Finland, Iceland and Greenland - is based on a simple idea: to create furnishings that are easily accessible to all, using typical elements of the surrounding nature. The use of natural materials, soft colors, and minimalist shapes - together with a small presence of works of art in large rooms, where sunlight is fully exploited - gives the environment a feeling of warmth and purity.
Scandinavian designers had significant influence starting from the 1950s until today. Alvar Aalto, Finnish architect and designer, designed in 1933 the STOOL E60 for Artek - a four-legged stool - considered one of the icons of Finnish design due to its simple and modern shape. Arne Jacobsen, a Danish architect and designer, produced the EGG chair for Fritz Hansen in 1959. By fusing all the distinct parts of the chair - seat, back, and armrests - Jacobsen designed a single curved shape similar to an eggshell. In 1964, the Finnish designer Maija Isola created the UNIKKO motif that soon became the symbol of the iconic brand Marimekko.
Similar to the Nordic style, there is the Japanese style. Even though geographically opposed, the two styles share strong values for aesthetics, a passion for nature, the use of simple materials and respect for objects. However, there is a difference between these two styles when adopted in the architectural composition. While the Nordic style favors airy, bright rooms with white walls, the Japanese home comprises sliding walls, rice paper, low tables, flexible furnishings and saturated colors.
Starting in the 1950s, the first Scandinavian-inspired design objects began to make their way in Japan. For example, the BUTTERFLY stool was realized in 1956 by Sori Yanagi. Influenced by the plywood molding technique developed by Charles and Ray Eames - combined with a gently curved silhouette - it resembles a butterfly's wings. In 1958, the designer Isamu Kenmochi created the LOUNGE CHAIR C-3150 and C-3160 finished with rattan, a naturally renewable palm tree. These chairs were among the first Japanese design objects selected for MoMA's permanent collection. This technique - a perfect fusion of Japanese design with Western design - also fascinated the Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi.
Combining two styles can really create something new? What happens if Scandinavian design, with its soft colors, is combined with the most vigorous Japanese color palette? What if domestic warmth is combined with the elegant and minimalistic Japanese style? The answer is in the Japandi style (union between 'Jap' of Japan and 'andi' of Scandinavian).
Since 2020 the Japandi started to take off and welcome broad consensus. Key features of the Japandi style are the functionality of the spaces, the light colors with neutral shades alternating with darker tones, the low and simple furniture with clean lines or rounded shapes and large windows to enjoy natural light.
The choice of materials - oriented more on woods such as oak, mahogany, sandalwood and cedar - offers more brightness to the rooms. Bamboo, wicker, ceramic, linen and jute are often used for handcrafted furnishing accessories. The Japanese concept of wabi-sabi - the acceptance of the impermanence and imperfection of things - is recognizable in this style. The materials are often used in a rough way to emphasize their frailty.
The color palette with earth tones (ocher, dove gray, ivory, gray), contrasted with more vibrant colors (blue, green, pink and light blue), make the environment more dynamic and pleasant. Love for nature is another essential attribute of this style. The presence of plants contributes to creating a relaxing atmosphere attentive to personal and environmental well-being.
Essentiality is another relevant element of Japandi. We are now used to having houses full of objects, so many that we forget them. Therefore, creating a cleaner and tidier environment by eliminating the superfluous makes the spaces more welcoming and comfortable.
Japandi seems to be the right style for any situation. Elegant and detailed, warm and comfortable, clean and linear and with a hint of imperfection. Who knows if the Japandi is just a trend, or it will manage to match what the Scandinavian and Japanese style has done for years: being memorable.