A FINE BLEND
A fusion of Japanese and Scandi style is a marriage of minds
I’m not really sure about the term “Japandi”. It sounds a little clumsy and not really evocative of the sophisticated aesthetic it describes. But as a newly minted adjective for a fusion of Scandinavian and Japanese influences, it’s a word we’re going to be hearing a lot more. And to be honest, “Japandinavian” is a bit of a mouthful.
Remember scratch-’n’-sniff? Well, in this column I’m introducing listen-’n’-read. Check out Norwegian DJ Kygo’s 2015 track ‘Here For You’. This is how Japandi would sound. Tight melody, treacle-rich vocals and the clever beat we associate with Scandinavia, overlaid with what I can only describe as electronic cherry blossom. You can almost hear the geisha’s shamisen. But how perfectly it all blends. And in the context of design, it’s intriguing how two seemingly different aesthetics combine to create something dynamic, modern and just so… right. Australian designer Tom Skeehan agrees. His Canberra-based studio (skeehan.com.au) has created Hoshi, a furniture range exclusive to Stylecrafthome (stylecraft home.com.au). “I admire the practical and refined Scandinavian approach,” he explains, “but complementing it with the craftsmanship found in the Japanese tradition. Both cultures cherish materials and functionality… building furniture to last a lifetime.”
A couple of years ago, I visited Japan to explore the tradition of craftsmanship – known as takumi – that transcends traditional standards of quality. It’s bound up with personal pride, with pushing oneself to the limits in search of perfection. In a society like ours that is learning to value authenticity over the fake and mass-produced, it’s not difficult to find parallels in cultures that prize longevity and integrity.
And Japandi is a style they have long appreciated across the Ditch. Aucklandbased Simon James designs for both his eponymous design studio (simon jamesdesign.com) and furniture brand Resident (resident.co.nz), both distributed in Australia by District (district.com.au). Like Skeehan, James believes Scandinavian and Japanese design “both share common values around minimalism, simplicity and clean lines – but execute this with different materials. There are aspects of both traditions that work well together to bring warmth to an interior.” Sometimes it’s difficult to make sense of it all, but I guess I’ve always been interested in why a trend is a trend. In Australia, our love of pared-back simplicity has driven a long-standing love affair with all things Scandi, Danish design in particular. But a new appreciation of the artisan – the individual – explains the Japanese twist. It’s a marriage of minds. Konnichiwa? Hej.