Living in Stillness – Japan’s Minimalist Design and Eastern Zen


(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

A Zen-style room is deliberately simple, and is the product of both strict attentiveness and concentrated insight. Such a state need not be dependent upon ‘knowing’, but it is most certainly reliant upon ‘wisdom’. The Buddhist tradition of Zen defines this state as that of a ‘monkey existing within a vast and empty space.’ This form of philosophical idealism is well-known, but it is only one side of the story, as Zen practitioners believe that a harmonious living space should be crafted from whatever materials are at hand. This is because the Zen lifestyle is fluid, and always striving for the establishment of peace in the environment. Whilst moving through empty space, wisdom informs the Zen practitioner how to change the atmosphere and functionality of a room.

Traditional Japanese interior design advocates a ‘return to nature’. In this regard, natural aesthetics are very much respected and are harmoniously combined. In today’s high-tech and high-paced life, people require more than ever the ability to retain physical and psychological balance. Through fresh and elegant interior design. This is actually the basic Eastern view of nature, and the traditional Zen-view is compatible with the thinking (and requirements) associated with modern interior design, and produce the perfect fusion.

The aims and practices of Zen are compatible with traditional Japanese design, and when combined, create a natural Zen-like minimalist perspective. Modern Japanese minimalist design becomes more natural, as the indoor environment is designed to create a naturally comfortable and stress-free ambience. This should not be surprising, as the design process often makes use of natural materials such as wood, stone, bamboo, rattan and plain textures. Managing the indoor greenery creates a natural, earthy, and elegant atmosphere.

Japanese design is premised upon simplicity. This is not only in accordance with Zen thinking, but is the very soul of interior design. This benefits those who now live in the hustle and bustle of the urban environment, and creates a natural quiet, simple, and elegant atmosphere. Such a design is rich in personal characteristics suitable for an urban population. Traditional Eastern culture is defined by its simple and natural philosophy. Today, this reality has combined with the thinking of modern Western design trends, and a fresh synthesis (combined without resistance) has been produced.



Original Chinese Language Article







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