07 May Japanese Style at Home
To follow on from Bohemian Style at Home a new ‘room by room’ guide from Thames & Hudson comes out this summer, it focuses on Japanese style. After a recent trip to Japan some friends of mine decided to do away with curtains on their patio doors and replace them with shōji-style screens. They love the simplicity of the screen – the way it lets in light yet provides complete privacy. When covered like this windows take on a completely different role, the glass itself assumes screen-like qualities and the room suddenly becomes a flexible space; the glass and shoji screen work in unison, acting as moveable walls which offer different degrees of partition from the garden.
‘Shōji: Adopted from aristocratic dwellings, shoji is a generic term that refers to sliding partitions made of a latticework wooden or bamboo frame. While there exist many different types, the English connotation commonly refers to a translucent type of sliding screen filled with rice paper, that can act as a room divider, window or door.’ Japanese Style at Home.
Traditional Japanese homes exude calm and this is achieved through what we commonly call minimalism. It takes a lot of planning and dedication to live in a home that successfully hides or removes the paraphernalia we accumulate over years, it’s not for self-proclaimed hoarders or collectors. In the book authors Olivia Bays, Tony Seddon and Cathelijne Nuijsink explain how to create a tranquil contemporary space with Japanese-style decorations, furnishings and accessories.
Ideas and tips are peppered with information and I’ve learned quite a bit from this handy 190-page book which includes in-depth case studies that demonstrate the elements of this style and provides examples of essential items found in Japanese homes. For instance, I didn’t know about the rather intriguing Kamenoko Tawashi scrubbing brush which is biodegradable ‘and a staple in Japanese households where they are used for cleaning just about everything.’
Low-to-the-ground living is far from suitable for people with cronky hips like me but I know many friends and clients who aspire to own a comfortable home that adheres to the uncomplicated aesthetic of Japanese design. (Before you check the dictionary I admit to having created a new word – a portmanteau or blend. Derived from cranky = irritable, and wonky = unsteady, cronky in my vocabulary aptly describes arthritic hips.) However, regardless of physical ability, if you crave a home that embraces nature and provides a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of 21st century life you would do well to take a few ideas from Japanese Style at Home and adapt them for your own use. Published by Thames & Hudson, who kindly sent me an early copy for review, the book is available from June 2019 and priced £14.95. ISBN 978 0 500 294994.