AN AUSPICIOUS Arrangement
"Shoji sighs open.
Inner space meets outer space:
Dual sides of the moon."
In the classic Japanese house, the floors are covered in large mats called tatami, which are made of natural fibers. The traditional tatami mat is constructed of rice straw and edged with a cotton or silk border. Today, tatami mats are constructed of many different materials, including bamboo. In addition to serving as beautiful and hard-wearing rugs, several tatami mats can be folded and stacked to form low benches. Tatami mats are arranged carefully in each room, to create a harmonious overall pattern. Today, mats are placed in the “auspicious” arrangement, with the junctions of adjoining mats forming a “T” shape. This arrangement is thought to bring good fortune.
AN UNCLUTTERED SPACE
Asian furniture is integral to the look and function of a traditional Japanese living space. Clean lines and natural materials combine to create an open, inviting feel. Basic Feng Shui principles dictate that home furnishings be minimalist and arranged in a way that allows for the free flow of Qi (sometimes written as Chi) – meaning “energy” or “life force” – throughout the home. This harmonious flow of Qi is necessary for the inhabitants' vitality and health. A Japanese platform bed instantly creates an uncluttered look that naturally fosters relaxation. The Raku Tatami platform bed is an excellent example of iconic Japanese furniture design. Made of eco-friendly materials, the Raku is cleverly constructed with a slot-locking design that uses no nails or screws and can be easily assembled or taken down. Additionally, the Tomaru Low Profile platform bed is another affordable example of the zen modern inspired design that many people today use in their japanese-style homes.
Sliding doors called shoji are also important elements in authentic Japanese design. Shoji are constructed of a paper called washi, in a bamboo or wood frame. Washi is traditionally made of fibers from the gampi tree, although it can also be made from hemp, rice, bamboo, or wheat. Washi is a translucent paper, which allows natural light to flow through interior rooms during daylight hours. Sliding doors also conserve space that would otherwise be taken up by a swinging door. Sliding doors on exterior walls open onto the garden, allowing the indoor and outdoor environments to merge into one beautiful visual composition. Japanese style standing screens that mimic the look of shoji are a great way to achieve a similar look in a modern home.
YOUR CHOICE OF MATERIALS
Wood and bamboo elements are commonly used in traditional Japanese décor. If you are refitting a room, think about creating an wood accent wall. Reclaimed wood walls have been popular for years, but it can take a while to locate and compile a sufficient amount of vintage wood to repurpose as interior siding. Another idea is to use the ancient technique of Shou Sugi Ban, a traditional Japanese method of wood-charring that dates back to the 1700s. The act of burning timber creates a natural sealant that protects against decay, wind, water, pests, and sunlight – making this an excellent choice for an outdoor patio area, as well. Select a hardwood that has an attractive grain, then singe the panels lightly to create a variegated look or scorch them thoroughly to create a solid black finish. Alternatively, unfinished oak or bamboo timber will create a lighter, airier effect.