Sleek, simple and irresistible, Japan’s aesthetic sensibility has made a formidable impact on the design industry. Case in point, the Barbican’s latest exhibition, The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945. On display until 25 June, the show wraps itself around the museum’s brutalist frame with a full scale reproduction of a 10-room Japanese home. Not one to missed, ‘the superb show doesn’t just tell the fascinating story of Japanese homes since the Second World War, it’s an lesson in how to exhibit architecture’ says the Evening Standard.
To accompany the hugely popular exhibition, we’ve put together a curated collection of the finest design from Japan. So if you can’t make it to the Barbican, or you can’t get enough of the show, you won’t be short of interior inspiration. Featuring contemporary kitchen accessories, humble homewares and versatile outdoor furniture, scroll down to discover practical and refined designs guaranteed to bring the Eastern style of perfect form and function to your home.
Honest Aesthetic and Practical Functionality
The Japanese aesthetic, developed historically through the appreciation of fine craftsmanship, balances functionality with beauty. Contemporary Japanese design brands such as Kinto and Midori continue to value these traditions while translating products for the modern home.
Empowered by Craftmanship
The value of craft skills and locally sourced materials are an integral factor to Japanese design – and have shaped the countries design history. The contemporary designs of Ishinomaki Laboratory draw upon this rich history of craftsmanship. Founded within a community drastically affected by the 2011 tsunami, their workshop became a place for locals to learn and share carpentry skills. The resulting collection of DIY-inspired designs is a celebration of Japan’s heritage and modern problem-solving design thinking.
In Harmony with Nature
A connection with nature plays an important role in the Japanese lifestyle. Plants, flowers and topiary are plentiful in Japanese gardens, offering an environment to reflect and appreciate the beauty of the natural landscape in. Niwaki is a brand who promotes the high quality of Japanese design through their range of specialist gardening tools and handy household products. Named after the Japanese for tree, the UK-based company offers a collection of versatile and refined designs perfect for the modern home.
Objects Born, Not Made
Japanese designers and architects have a great respect for the environment, favouring natural materials, which will return to the earth and biodegrade. A key Japanese design principle is to produce objects which are ‘born’, rather than made. Made from ethically sourced bamboo, the Wasara tableware collection offers an environmentally responsible alternative to standard single use dinnerware. Developed and produced in Tokyo, each piece is elegant, practical and fully compostable.
The Visual Art of Entertaining
Dining and entertaining plays a vital role within the Japanese home – with food and the dishes they’re served on being considered to be a type of art. The visual display and arrangement of tableware during a meal celebrates the flavours of the food and the act of eating together. Drawing upon the crafts of ceramics and rush weaving, the Eastern-inspired collection at SCP features Japanese entertaining essentials designed to elevate even the simplest of suppers to that of pure dining delight.