A touch of harmony: Ikuhiro Yamagata shares how Japanese design influence the world

A touch of harmony: Ikuhiro Yamagata shares how Japanese design influence the world

Japanese design has made a big impact the world over. Delving into the ways Japanese design has influenced a whole range of aesthetics globally, we spoke to interior designer Ikuhiro Yamagata.

“I think interior design is constantly changing. There are four seasons in Japan and by designing the interior based on the natural order, the feeling of each season is expressed in the space. Interior design is something that should grow like a living thing in response to changes in the environment, and no one is the same.”


Kanye West is not the first person we normally think of when speaking about Japan, however this rapper has been influenced by Japan throughout his career. First through collaborations with Takashi Murakami and then through Belgian architect, Axel Vervoordt. This architect is known for his pared back design approach which is inspired by Eastern philosophies. A westernized version of wabi-sabi includes peeling paint, bare boards, distressed plaster walls and muted colors.

Kim and Kanye have certainly done their bit to bring wabi-sabi to the mainstream, showing the world how they live in a bone-colored house void of decoration (save for some tasteful ceramic pieces).


A compact house can still feel amazing to spend time in, thanks to a well-positioned window with a garden view. This gives the impression of space and imparts a feeling of openness to the area thanks to the technique known as “shakkei” or “borrowed scenery”. This principle uses and incorporates distant views into the garden setting, becoming part of the design. This principle is not limited to the garden alone and can be found in most spaces with a tangible connection to the outdoors.

Use Open Spaces

The practice of “Ma” ensures that a Japanese home always has ample space. This design style focuses on creating a natural flow. Everything has a purpose and perfect placement. Furniture normally lines one or two sides of the room, while the rest of the living space is uncluttered and open. This can be easily incorporated into your current interior design ideas by arranging the furninte along two or three walls of the room. Use minimalism when selecting furniture pieces to remain on the floor. A chest of drawers, table with built in cubbies or a large cabinet are great choices to hold essential items while keeping the room in a decluttered state.

Introducing Natural Elements

“Many people come to consult us if they want a modern style. It hasn’t changed in the past and now. However, this modern style has a different image for each person.” Mr. Yamagata explains that modern style equates to ‘modern style’. “In other words, it’s an advanced interior that requires a mixed-style finish. It can be said that the keyword of this interior is genuine. I think that the idea of ​​using good furniture for a long time has not changed in the past, now and in the future.”

Along with using good furniture, combining natural with modernism, while still remaining true to the minimalist design ethic can be achieved through the use of sky-lights, glass doors and large windows to let plenty of natural light in. Natural wallpaper, straw carpets and wooden furniture would beautifully complement a statement Ikebana (Japanese style flower arrangement). Tones of beige, brown, shades of blue and green can be used to induce a sense of nature in the living space.

Sliding Doors and Screens

Sliding doors and windows are great space savers in the minimalist home. Not only do they add a modern touch, but helps to keep the interior well-lit with natural light. Modern window designs with bamboo screens and glass panels can add so much presence to a room, while sliding glass doors are useful additions for balconies and backyards.

Room dividers are another important source of Japanese interior design. Shoji screens come in beautiful designs and can add a bit of flair into any interior. Their versatility is limited to your imagination. Try installing some Shoji screens in a large living room to create a separate dining space or play area for the children.

The Takeaway

Japanese design elements have influenced and informed modern design practices for years. It draws heavily from natural elements and places importance on harmonious interiors. As Mr. Yamagata said: “The first thing to do is to clarify what kind of life you want to live there. No matter how nice the interior design is, it doesn’t make sense to hinder your life. I believe that the top priority should be to create an environment where clients can live comfortably.”

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