Posted by Wall Panels World on 23rd Feb 2024

Japandi Interior Design | The Rules And Theory

GIF showing the definition and etymology of Japandi

After Japan opened its borders in the late 19th century, Danish designers were captivated by Japanese aesthetics like wabi-sabi (beauty in imperfection) and minimalist forms. Conversely, Japanese designers found inspiration in Scandinavian functionality and focus on natural materials.

This admiration led to cultural exchange, with Danish designers visiting Japan and Japanese design principles being incorporated into Danish design schools.

The term "Japandi" is credited to British interior designer Sophie Robinson in 2016. It served as a concise way to describe the fusion of these two design styles. By 2021, Japandi searches on Google Trends peaked, signifying its widespread adoption and popularity.

What Is Japandi?

It's simple, Japadi is a fusion of Japanese and Scandinavian design philosophy. 

Japandi isn't just a fusion, it's a harmonious balance. Clean lines and  natural materials from Scandinavia meet the warmth of wood and the timeless simplicity of Wabi-Sabi from Japan.

Japandi was a gradual process, as Danish and Japanese designers began exploring the unique interior design styles of their countries, they experimented and incorporated various elements of each others, into their own. Which developed into a fusion. The style is still being refined and like all interior design styles, it's evolving with the times.

The Principles of Japandi Style


Minimalism is core to Japandi style. This is embodied through a paired back, decluttered aesthetic using minimal decorative accents to avoid visual noise. Negative space takes focus to evoke tranquil mindstates. Everything in a Japandi minimalist space serves a purpose - no non-essential objects are included. This creates free-flowing open zones conducive to relaxation.

Textural elements and thoughtful details take the place of numerous possessions or elaborate furnishings. Tactile trims, natural light and house plants become subtle statements. Through simplicity and removal of excess visual stimulation, Japandi’s refined take on minimalism helps calm the mind and enhance wellbeing.

Photo of a minimalist Japandi Interior

Natural Materials

Japandi interiors rely heavily on natural organic materials that connect inhabitants to nature through biophilic design. Natural wood finishes like oak or walnut are dominant for flooring and furniture. Stone accents and rattan or bamboo detailing provide warmth. Rough-hewn beams, unfinished edges and natural wood grain showcase the unique markings of raw materials.

Textiles use breathable natural fibres like linen, cotton and wool rather than synthetic alternatives for that crisp, light feel associated with Japandi. Handmade ceramics, clay pots and other earthenware elements made from soil compounds introduce grounding terra cotta tones. By spotlighting nature in design, these tactile materials bring the outside in.

Moodboard of natural Japani material accessories

Neutral Colour Palette

Muted, calming and neutral colours that emulate soft, lighter shades found in nature define Japandi’s colour story. Off-whites, cream, earthy beige and pale grey backgrounds provide an adaptable canvas, with light oak and rattan furnishing adding sous-bois depth. Crisp whites contrast against these stony neutrals to accentuate negative space.

Without the visual noise of loud colours, this soothing neutral scheme creates peaceful interiors where inhabitants can rest and recharge. Accent colours are used sparingly in muted jewel tones, or to spotlight greenery and floral arrangements drawn from nature’s softer palette. These harmonious undertones complement Japandi’s pared-back aesthetic.

Diagram of Japandi neutral colour palette


All elements in a Japandi space serve a purpose to enhance functionality. Open-concept layouts have multifunctional furniture and minimal partitions for flexible room usage. Hidden storage solutions allow for clutter-free surfaces and tidiness. The positioning, layout and flow support movement and daily practicalities.

From convertible furniture pieces like sofa-beds to nested coffee tables, organizational additions aid usage needs rather than for pure aesthetics. The seamless marriage between design and utility honours Japandi’s ethos that function and practicality should mirror form. This boosts livability and ergonomics to better serve home inhabitants.

Photo shows a Japandi interior with a functional hidden coffee table


With roots in Japanese woodworking and Danish carpentry, artisanal craftsmanship powers Japandi’s aesthetic. Great pride is placed on carpentry mastery, with high-quality solid wood furniture handmade by specialists using dedicated age-old techniques that highlight natural wood grains. The mark of the craftsperson remains evident.

Visible joinery shows precise Japanese woodworking methods that avoid nails, screws and glue. Danish influence adds Scandinavian lines and shapes paired with creative functionality. Whether seating, shelving or storage, each furniture piece sings of its hand-hewn origins. This flawless level of skill seen in Japandi interiors reflects meticulous attention to detail and respect for materials.

Photo shows high quality craftsmanship in a Japandi interior

Light and Space

Two cornerstones of Japandi are abundance of light through large windows, and open spacious layouts that blur indoor/outdoor boundaries. Incorporating light and space provides an airy, freeing feeling. Large glass doors fully open onto nature. Skylights, atriums and fewer walls mean no dark, confined spaces.

This seamless interaction between airy, light-filled interiors and exterior open space provides visual expansion and ventilation. The openness offers flexibility not afforded by closed-off rooms. Removing boundaries so inhabitants feel transported into nature's realm even while inside is fundamental to Japandi ideals of harmonic, free-flowing home spaces that nourish the spirit.

Photo shows interplay of light and space in a Japandi interior

Wabi-Sabi and Hygge

At the heart of Japandi’s fusion of Japanese minimalism and Danish cosiness lies the philosophical concepts of Wabi-Sabi and Hygge. These Eastern and Northern European ideas form the backbone of Japandi style.


Wabi-Sabi is the ancient Japanese worldview centered around accepting imperfection and seeing beauty in things that are old, weathered, or imperfect. This accepts the natural cycle of life and focuses on the transient nature of beauty. 

In the context of design, Wabi-Sabi embraces  aged wood finishes, patinas that show use over time, handmade pottery with irregular shapes, and other “flaws” that display the human touch. This adds organic richness, texture, and authenticity to Japandi interiors.


The Danish philosophy of Hygge also holds immense importance in Japandi aesthetics. Hygge promotes feelings of cosiness, comfort, connection, and contentment through design elements like soft textiles, warm ambient lighting, and thoughtful small details. 

Spending quality time with loved ones in serene, calming spaces that feel like a comforting embrace embodies Hygge as a design ethos.

By blending these two influential schools of thought, Japandi interiors achieve a relaxed sophistication that feels both elegant and livable. The acceptance of natural flaws from Wabi-Sabi prevents austerity, while Hygge’s promotion of cosiness counters minimalism’s potential starkness. 

Together, they form a holistic philosophical base for Japandi design rooted in traditional Eastern and Northern ideals. The synergy between these calming, organic philosophies is what gives Japandi its distinctive signature aesthetic.

Implementing Japandi in Your Home

Japandi’s soothing fusion of Japanese minimalism and Scandinavian coziness can transform any home into a sleek, serene oasis. When incorporating this graceful aesthetic into your decor, consider the following practical tips:


Invest in well-crafted multipurpose furniture with clean lines. Opt for solid wood pieces from  oakash or walnut for warmth. Japanese-style low-profile seating like floor cushions, benches and armless chairs promote flexibility. Look for Danish mid-century furnishings with light hues and natural finishes. Platform beds with discreet storage maximize space. Incorporate woven rattan or bamboo for texture.


Implement plenty of natural materials and textiles. Unfinished, unsealed wood with visible grain paired with neutral fibre rugs bring in nature. Stone and gentle curves add Zen-like tranquility. Use linen, cotton and wool textiles in calm colors for breathability and crispness. Display plants, branches and natural found objects as ornamentation. Add luminous window light and skylights. Incorporate ceramics, earthenware and  marble for visual interest.

Colour Palette

Muted, soft hues predominate to cultivate peace. Layer whites and neutrals like cloud grey, sand and light oak. Employ tactile off-whites such as eggshell white, with brighter tones used sparingly as accents. Natural elements like wood grain and greenery also shine against this blank canvas. Add serenity and warmth through woven textures and exposed hardwood materials. Infuse your palette with bespoke ceramics or paper lanterns for delicate splashes of understated color.

Accessories and Details

Thoughtful Japandi details reinforce the essence of tranquility, craftsmanship and artistry.

Arrange dried floral botanicals and float tealights in handmade clay dishes to reflect traditional ikebana style flower arranging.

Use recycled glassware or table accents with imperfections to nod to Japanese Wabi Sabi philosophy.

Place woven straw baskets throughout for natural storage.

Choose soft cotton linens and handmade throws with subtle patterns to support peaceful reverie and the Danish Hygge mindset.

Remember that minimalism, nature and multifunctionality are at the heart of Japandi style.

By repurposing what you own and keeping clutter at bay, any living space can become a clean-lined Japanese-inspired retreat infused with rustic Scandinavian soulfulness.

Fill your home with daylight, keep furnishings to a minimum and be inspired by the textures of the natural world.

Illustration of Japandi interior design elements