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Minimalist Japanese Design Principles

What is Zen?

When you’re working, just work. When you’re resting, just rest. When you’re eating, just eat.

Have you ever wondered about how do you perceive space? Do you notice changes in your well-being, depending on a shape and an arrangement of a room in which you are staying at a given moment? Do you realize that, in this aspect, you are shaped by the culture? People from different parts of the world need different stimuli to feel safe and comfortable. It enables us to learn from one another on how to create interiors— beautiful, practical and soothing for our souls and minds alike.

japanese zen bathtub

Both eastern and western cultures are founded on the pillars of antiquity. The ancient Greeks thoroughly observed nature and they feared it, so they sought refuge in the world of gods and ideas. One of the cures for this fear was a construction of monumental buildings of harmonious shapes, what had influenced the culture— particularly the architecture— of the old continent for hundreds of years. The Japanese, whose country is located solely on islands, were forced to lead an eternal struggle with the elements. Pulling pieces of land from the control of water and raw mountain climate has shaped in them a great respect for nature. When we created impressive palaces and castles, the Japanese still indulged in ground-floor constructions – even in the case of important and representative objects. It is a kind of homage to nature, a sign of respect and reconciliation with it. In multistorey Japanese buildings stairs and ladders, if really necessary, are still hidden in inconspicuous places.

Shingle Style Waterfront

The most important and decisive character of a Japanese interior is its horizontal nature. Those horizontal lines are ubiquitous in a traditional house, symbolizing a temporary shelter for the one who lives in harmony with nature. Flat spaces, full of delicate and elegant charm, are divided into several types. The heart of the traditional Japanese house is “the umbrella”. Sounds ridiculous? Not for Japanese builders. Carpenters used to start a construction of a house by sticking an umbrella into the ground, in order to find a place where it casts a shadow in the most proper way. The shadow—yami—was the basis of a truly beautiful room.


The most shaded, middle part of the house is called oku. It’s a deeper outer space, designed for co-existence of family members and their friends. It provides security, privacy and intimacy. The rooms located on the outskirts of oku are called omote. They constitute a working space, that loses its metaphysical significance in direct proportion to the distance from the center of the oku. The principles which rule the aesthetics of Japan are unusual in Western culture’s love of space. While we prefer to collect items, Japanese surround themselves with only the essential ones. What they need most is a quiet beauty, that does not have to show off itself or be advertised. Beauty ought to be hidden beneath the surface of things and wait patiently to be discovered by the viewer.


Japanese style is ideal for use in modern interiors. Both the soothing simplicity and the use of natural materials is a way to escape from the rushing world around us. We suggest to enrich such minimalist interior with wonderful carpet from Doris Leslie Blau collection. Featured below Contemporary Water Design Rug N11368 is inspired by traditional Japanese tatami, which is the unit of measure and an integral part of Japanese interior.

Doris Leslie Blau_Contemporary Water Design N11368- zen
Doris Leslie Blau contemporary carpet

What we should learn from the Japanese is how to combine simplicity with utility and how to enjoy their harmonious grace on a daily basis, shouldn’t we?