An element of Japanese style is very much the mood of the moment in the Autumn of 2017, but how do you ‘Get-the-Look’ at home? Certainly it’s not about ripping down your walls to install Shoji screens nor replacing your carpet with tatami mats! That would be a literal appropriation which in most Western homes would look plain silly. Instead, this is about channelling the subtle Japanese sensibility of refinement, order and simplicity. It’s about organising your home to work to its best advantage in order to support your wellbeing. No wonder I’m a big fan! Herewith my top five tips…
1 First things first, read Marie Kondo’s “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” It will revolutionise the way you clear your home; for a cluttered home will never be calm.
2 I have always preferred integrated, and wall-hung, storage rather than floor-standing closets and cupboards. It creates a seamless feel in rooms, maximises every inch of space, and if units can be wall-hung, being able to see the maximum amount of floor space will make any room feel bigger. There’s also a kind of inherent quietude to a room in which the storage becomes part of the architecture. It also then lets individual star pieces, chosen for their beauty alone, rather than pure function, really sing.
3 An element of symmetry is very restful for the eye, but militant perfectionism rather undermines the effect. Wabi-sabi is the Japanese philosophy of beauty in imperfection, and for me, where symmetry and Wabi-sabi meet, is the point of interiors perfection. Think balance with a twist.
4. Instill a sense of life and texture into every surface. The Japanese way is that of great consideration. Walls are never just plastered, they are finished to a strokable perfection. Why have flat surfaces when they could thrill your fingertips? My personal love is for the textured wallpapers by Anaglypta (see how I’ve used it even above my wardrobes, above). Turner Tile by Anaglypta, here finished in white gloss to mirror the lacquer of the cupboard fronts.
5. Introduce an element of nature. But to do it in true Japonisme style means to be subtle. These wallpapers are the perfect contemporary solution. Inspired by Japan, the ‘Nara’ wallpaper collection in Autumn, Winter and Summer; and ‘Kyoto’ collection also in Spring, Summer, Winter and Autumn, all £75 per roll, Fired Earth
6. Inevitably, it’s all about the details: The ‘Monrovia’ decorative plate, £76, from OKA is described on their site as being African-inspired, but to my eye, it’s definitely more Japanese!
And then hotfoot it to John Lewis, because in cahoots with the V&A, it has launched a wonderful collection of pieces inspired by the museum’s Japanese collections. Think glorious wallpaper panels, (set of three, 10m x 69cm, £80), cushions inspired by vintage kimonos (£45 each in two different colourways) and decorative plates (£65 for a set of side plates; £55 for the larger platters).