Living Neale Whitaker explains the Japandi trend.
An elegant new interior trend sees Japanese design fused with Scandinavian style
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of Sticks and Wombat, the lovable larrikins on the current season of The Block. They’ve got great ideas, they listen to the judges’ advice – and they’re hilarious. But let’s be honest, the living/ dining room they delivered in this series was a bit of a turkey. I can’t remember my exact words, but the gist was that the room didn’t know if it was a Japanese ryokan – those guys love a bonsai – or a Scandustrial (another Block- ism) warehouse.
The room was a fail, but as fellow judge Darren Palmer pointed out at the time, the pair had inadvertently hit on one of interior design’s hottest trends – Japandi.
The fusion of Japanese and Scandi forms a clumsysounding adjective that belies its elegance, but it’s a look that’s getting a lot of attention. The Japanese twist adds interest to the Scandinavian vibe we love so much, while the Scandi notes update traditional Japanese style. Both share a love of function and restraint, of natural materials and textures – especially wood – and of muted colours. Both styles respect the artisan and reject the conspicuous.
There are parallels too between the Danish concept of hygge (wellbeing) and the lesser known Japanese wabi-sabi (perfect imperfection) and takumi (craftsmanship). Think of a Sori Yanagi stool or a Hans Wegner chair. Designs of a similar age from opposite sides of the world that are timeless in their appeal.
Vogue Living was among the first to spot the Japandi trend. The magazine’s stylist Joseph Gardner demonstrated symmetry between the two styles by creating images that were Japanese in flavour, yet using mostly Scandinavian furniture and homewares.
“The two aesthetics complement each other so well because both are centred around simplicity, honesty and functionality,” Gardner says.
For me, it was a recent Instagram post by Australian brand Armadillo & Co (armadillo-co.com) that really illustrated the beauty of Japandi. The company’s Nala rug (which I’d previously filed in my mind under Moroccan) was simply styled with Japanese and Scandinavian furnishings.
“It’s a perfect partnership,” says Sally Pottharst, co-founder and director of Armadillo & Co. “The clarity of design and authenticity complement each other so well and work beautifully in contemporary interiors.”
Exactly what Sticks and Wombat were thinking – inadvertently, of course.
“They complement each other due to simplicity, honesty and functionality”
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS (from top) Vogue Living stylist Joseph Gardner’s take on the Japandi trend, a blending of understated Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics; Hans Wegner’s woven CH22 chair, re-created by Carl Hansen & Søn; elegant detail from the...