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Ikuhiro Yamagata is a revelatory new artist who infuses interior design with minimalist styles. Learn more about Yamagata here.

Ikuhiro Yamagata Introduces a Harmonious Mix of Styles

A delicate fusion between Japanese and Scandinavian styles gave birth to a serene, minimalist style known as Japandi. It is not hard to understand why these clean and understated, yet warm and cozy interiors have become a design trend that is here to say.

We spoke with interior designer, Ikuhiro Yamagata, about this design philosophy. “The style is a mixture of highly functional Scandinavian style and Japanese style of Zen spirit. My home was one  of the first to adopt the Japandi style and uses a lot of natural materials, such as wood. And I express it as simply as possible. I hope that there will be more opportunities for people from overseas to adopt the Japanese style that I was born in.”

It is more than just an interior style. Japandi is a philosophy that bleeds together Scandinavian minimalism with wabi sabi Japanese ethos. This world view appreciates beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete in nature. When applied to interior design the results often will have one appreciating the raw beauty of materials and natural elements. 

The Palette 

Warm and neutral colours are the background of every Japandi style interior. While Scandinavian styles lean heavily on total white, the muted colours and natural hues provide a serene but playful alternative. Grey and black can create a dramatic atmosphere. Japandi is the perfect blend between the bright yet cold colour scheme typical to Scandinavian style and the warm, natural colours found in Japanese style. Pops of color can add elements of excitement without breaking away from the minimalistic harmony of the overall design. 

Declutter and embrace Minimalism

Simple, functional and impactful. Those words efficiently bring together the core of Japandi style as there is no place for clutter and useless decor. Furniture pieces are selected carefully and are bold accessories. The minimalist, clean lines and low ground clearance encourages a connection between people and earth, while keeping decor and accessories to a minimum. Plants, glassware, books and handmade ceramics are ideal decor pieces and wall art is reduced to a few statement pieces.

“The Japanese and Scandinavian style have in common that they emphasize minimalism. I am very happy that people all over the world have recognized the unique Japanese spirit of Wabi-Sabi, which is to minimize things and enjoy the margins. I also think that the fact that I spend more time at home due to the influence of the coronavirus is also a factor in accelerating the trend of this style. Japandi is a style that allows you to live a comfortable and functional life as simply as possible,” Mr. Yamagata believes this trend will continue for some time still. 

Natural Materials

Furniture from natural materials and high quality can go a long way to enhance a space. Matching furniture with natural or textured fabrics, exposed wood grain or even adding traditional Japanese fixtures such as “urushi” wallpaper, shibori fabrics, as well as textured paper lamps and ceramics works together harmoniously to transform any space. 

Zen Influence 

Blurring the boundary between indoors and outdoors is one of the basics that the Japandi style relies on. This blurring is achieved through the use of carefully selected, quality pot plants. Bearing in mind that restraint and understated elegance lies at the heart of this design trend, therefore plants should be selected carefully. No jungle greens or corners overflowing in a sea of vines. Tall plants with sleek and elegant leaves and a simple form would best compliment the Japandi interior. 

Surprisingly Playful

Finding the balance between a decluttered, minimalistic space and a welcoming one is not easy, but Mr. Yamagata has a special tiny helper. Born in Singapore, Maru, forms part of the smallest cat breed in the world – the Singapura. The breed may be tiny in body, but is large in personality. “Maru knows a lot of calm places in my house. Maru often tells us about small productions that I couldn’t notice. It’s like my home teacher.” 

Taking a page out of Maru’s book, finding balance in a Japandi interior takes a playful twist. Mixing and matching Scandinavian and Japanese decor can be done in several ways. Statement wooden coffee tables with urban chairs and sofas with sprinkling of natural materials such as cork and timber will bring harmony to a space. 

Experimenting with asymmetrical height of furniture pieces will break the monotony of the layout. Linen cushions and fuzzy rugs in plain colours will help to make the space cozier. A statement art piece in neutral tones can provide an elegant focal point in the understated, playful interior. There are a myriad of ways to be playful, bold and experimental in the Japandi interior design style, making it a truly refreshing approach to interior design. 

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