A Quick Guide To Contemporary Japanese Furniture Design

For anyone considering adding an Asian touch to their home decor, this guide will explain why contemporary Japanese furniture is becoming so popular.

American home decor has begun to change in recent years, departing from the lavish designs and ornately decorated rooms of old. Now many people are choosing furnishings that have a simpler elegance. It is often overlooked that this is not a new trend but dates back to ancient Japan. In fact, the Japanese furniture most of us are familiar with was first designed during the Edo period of the 1500s and has undergone little change until recently. The following explains the design of contemporary Japanese furniture as well as why its uncomplicated beauty and functionality make it so desirable.

The Japanese believe in the concept of "Ma," which is a proper balance between a space and the objects in it. This is why traditional Japanese decoration creates a room that is simple but stunning, not plain or cluttered. Also, seating and bedding are often either on the floor or only slightly raised, hence the custom of removing one's shoes before entering the house. Furnishings are designed to mimic nature and are mostly neutral in color. Beige, white, and lightly colored wood are the most common colors, with accents of red, green, gold, or black lacquer.

To create a living space that embodies Japanese design, there are a few details that you should incorporate into the room. Rather than carpeting the floors, try using tatami mats, which are woven from rice straw and can be used for sitting, sleeping, or merely for covering plain wood floors. They have a light tan color and a black fabric border, making them aesthetically pleasing rugs. If you do not wish to invest in these often-expensive pieces, look for a simple woven rug of similar coloration. Another staple of Japanese furniture is filtered light, which is traditionally achieved through the use of screens and paper lamps. Called shoji screens, these dividers are a great way to break up a large room or hide unattractive areas. Light passes through their rice paper screens to give a delightfully soft glow. Modern paper lamps also give subtle warmth to a room and are available in various heights and shapes.

As for sitting furniture, you need not feel that you have to sit on the floor (or tatami mat) to have an authentic Asian home. Although many manufacturers offer low tables, chairs, and couches, the same design principles are also incorporated into more comfortably elevated pieces. The appeal of a low table is that it can double as a dinner table. Most Japanese-style tables are made out of a heavy wood with a metal top, which is often capable of being plugged in and used for preparing food. Instead of using chairs, arrange plush pillows on the floor on which guests can recline. Alternately, you could purchase very low chairs with cushions if you prefer to have back support while dining. These are costly but add a very genuine touch to the decor. They can also double as lounge chairs for the living room, making them especially functional for those on a tight budget or with minimal space.

Couches and beds of Japanese design are usually set on wooden platforms rather than being on frames with springs. This design not only creates a sturdier piece of furniture but also provides the option for extra storage. In fact, most of these pieces have drawers and cabinets built in so that they perform multiple tasks. Likewise, shoe tansus, which are traditionally used for storing shoes behind their sliding doors, can be used as end tables. The cushions of a contemporary Japanese couch are usually separate from the stained or lacquered wood frame. You can interchange cushions as you like, switching from subtle beige to stunning red without the added expense of buying a new sofa. Beds are simply designed, often consisting only of a wood frame with flared legs and possibly a bamboo canopy. If you prefer a highly minimalist bedroom, you can mimic the Japanese tradition of sleeping on a futon or mattress directly on the floor.

Whether you decide to adorn your home with authentic Japanese furniture or only with modern pieces reflecting its style, you are sure to welcome the change. In the uncluttered space, you will appreciate more fully unique accents. A carefully pruned bonsai, a handmade piece of Japanese calligraphy hung on the wall, or a rich kimono displayed proudly will demand your attention in their subtle surroundings. Furthermore, utilizing shoji screens gives you the option of flexible boundaries. You can have a different room every day simply by changing their locations. The muted colors, simple design, and organic materials of your furniture are sure to clear your house and mind, helping you feel that your home really is a sanctuary.

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