Zen design has been very popular from the 90s until today. Because of its simple, bare appearance, Zen has been often associated with modernism and minimalism. It is also linked closely to Asian aesthetics. However, Zen is much more than that. In fact, minimalism is only one feature of Zen design.
Zen is based on the principles of Zen Buddhism–rooted in India, developed in China, and flourished in Japan. (I won’t elaborate on its historical background because, I have to admit, I am not an expert on this.) Following the philosophy, Zen design is focused more on spatial composition directed towards creating a meditative atmosphere. For this reason, the design theme is not limited to the use of bamboo, buddha figures, and asian details.
Zen is famous for its clean and minimal appearance. This is based on the belief that gives importance to the essence of emptiness and subdued visual appearance. The concept is equated with the traditional Japanese philosophy stating that “life on earth is merely a phase in man’s total existence”, and that space is a temporary shelter for the body and should not be a showcase for materialism. In relation to its Buddhist roots, the feature of emptiness also allows for meditation, a key practice in Zen.
Another important feature of the design theme is its preference for nature and natural materials, motivated by the animistic principles of of the Japanese religion, Shintoism. It believes that man and nature are one and that spirits reside in all of nature including rocks and trees.
To create a Zen space in your home, here are the main ingredients:
1) Emptiness: A space that is calm and clear. In short, going down to the bare essentials–NO to clutter, unnecessary decor, vibrant color palettes, and dynamic linear elements.
2) Conscious awareness: A sensual space that subtly triggers the senses of sight, touch, smell, hearing, taste.
3) Nature: Even if the space seems empty, it is made alive by the spirit of nature through the use of natural materials for the surfaces and decor and by incorporating a view of the outdoors.
Tags: interior design, zen
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