in Home & Garden

An introduction to Japandi design (and more)

As Kim and I begin our house hunt, it’s become clear that I am drawn to mid-century modern design. Yes, I realize that’s a bit cliché. Mid-century modern (or MCM, for short) is popular with many, many people.

For me, I’m drawn to MCM — or any sort of modernist design, really — because it seems to be the United States’ closest approximation of two other design paradigms that I find appealing: Japanese and Scandinavian.

Both Japanese and Scandinavian design seem to emphasize the same things: simplicity, clean lines, natural materials, and so on. Turns out, I’m not the first to notice the similarities. In fact, Japandi (as it’s called) is a hot design trend in 2021! (Here’s a blog post about employing Japandi in a traditional ranch home.)

I just spent the past two hours down an internet rabbit hole as I tried to learn more about Japandi design. Since I don’t want to forget what I’ve learned, I’m going to share some of the things I liked best here.

Here’s a ten-minute video on how to decorate Japandi from the Posh Pennies channel on YouTube.

And here’s a sixteen-minute video from Nick Lewis that explores the same subject.

I haven’t watched that one yet, but I will just as soon as publish this blog post. 😉

Lastly, I enjoyed Joe Allam’s 21-minute “Made in Japan”, which explores traditional craftsmanship in the Ishikawa and Gifu prefectures.

Although I’ve been drawn to this sort of design my entire adult life, it’s only recently that I’ve considered decorating my home this way. And it’s only in the past year that I’ve realized it’s possible to purchase notebooks and pens, etc. from Japan.

So that I have a permanent resource for this stuff, here are some links (most of which I have not explored thoroughly) to sources for Japandi design inspiration and Japanese products.

  • Hobbs Modern is a San Diego company that restores and sells mid-century modern pieces. Gorgeous stuff but expensive.
  • Artek is a Finnish company that has been creating modern furniture since 1935.
  • Modloft (in Miami) produces “elite modern furniture for the contemporary home”.
  • Maruni is a Japanese company that has been “pioneering the industrial application of craft skills” for almost 100 years.
  • Karimoku is a Japanese manufacturer of wooden furniture.
  • BoConcept is a source of Danish furniture that feels very modern.
  • Motarasu is a company deliberately working to blend Japanese and Danish design. (I don’t like most of their stuff, though.)
  • Mobilia is a Canadian company that sells (creates?) Scandinavian-inspired modern furniture.

And here’s a list of semi-related companies that sell high-quality and/or elegant items that aren’t necessarily Japandi, but which are related in my mind.

  • Schoolhouse is a local Portland company that sells a wide range of items for the home. They’re not all Japandi, but they are all quality. I’ve been buying from them for more than a decade now. I’m not sure how I feel about it. (For sale here.)
  • Muji is a Japanese company that sells a wide range of products — clothing, furniture, and more — that are meant to be simple and practical.
  • Walden sells high-quality (but expensive) meditation cushions, etc.
  • Studio Neat creates high-quality, simple tools. Last year, I spent $65 on this pen. I love it. Love it, love it, love it.
  • Hobinichi Store for my favorite journals and planners. (Also available from JetPens.)
  • Uniqlo is a Japanese company that produces “stylish and affordable sportswear”. They’re very popular in the /r/frugalmalefashion subreddit, but I’ve never looked at their stuff because I thought the company name was stupid. My mistake, I guess.
  • Takasaki is like an online Japanese supermarket. (See also: ZenMarket.)
  • Umami Mart is a California-based source of Japanese food and drinks.
  • Nihon Ichiban is an online shop for authentic Japanese household items.

Kim and I already own a few pieces that would fit well (if not perfectly) in a Japandi home. I have the four Stickley items I bought in 2009. She owns a couple of black cabinets. And, of course, technically all of my Ikea office furniture is Scandinavian haha.

We’ll see where we end up. If the home lends itself to it, maybe we’ll pursue Japandi interior design.

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