Many interior designers and homeowners in Dallas today look to Asia for stylistic inspiration. "Asian-style" can refer to interior design with an Indian, Chinese, or Japanese influence, but here we will focus on Chinese and Japanese design specifically. Asian decor continues to be popular for a few reasons. Asian accessories or design elements can instantly bring tranquility into a room. Japanese style also blends very well with contemporary rooms, since both styles emphasize clean lines, open space, and neutral colors. Meanwhile, Chinese accessories, with their sense of history and craftsmanship, are well suited for traditional homes.
Curved, intricately detailed furniture is associated with Chinese style rather than Japanese. In a traditionally decorated Chinese home, it's common to see furniture with gilt details, hand-painting, carvings, and ornate handles. If you own a statement piece with these features, make it the center of attention by surrounding it with simpler furniture.
Oriental rugs, fine silks, and tasseled draperies are also characteristic of this style. When you're picking fabrics or patterns for wallpaper, keep an eye out for common Chinese motifs. Fish, flowers, dragons, monkeys, and tigers are all examples. Unlike the soothing earth and gray tones in Zen homes, Chinese style homes are more dramatic, with gold-painted walls or patterned wallpaper.
Some Asian accessories, such as blue and white china and chinoiserie, are also at home in a traditional room. Blue and white china pieces were imported to Europe as early as the 15th century. Chinoiserie, a French-term for "Chinese-esque," are traditional decorations that draw inspiration from Asian art. Examples of Chinoiserie include paintings, pottery, textiles, wallpaper, and decorated furniture that depict a fanciful version of China.
A Chinese design philosophy that is sometimes utilized by Western interior designers is feng shui. Feng shui, when applied to interior design, is a very exacting style. Every piece in the room must serve a purpose. The choice in natural materials becomes incredibly important, as wood, water, fire, earth, and metal-- and the furnishings associated with them--create their own distinctive energies. By hiring an expert in feng shui design, or studying up on it yourself, you can carefully reconstruct the emotional quality of each room.
If you enjoy modern design, but also appreciate traditional rooms with a sense of culture and history, Japanese design could be the best of both worlds for you.
Japanese-style rooms are often described as having a 'Zen' quality. A Japanese school of Buddhism, Zen teaches that its followers must experience enlightenment for themselves, rather than simply memorize a list of teachings. Living a simple life, experiencing the here-and-now, and disciplined meditation in a calm environment are said to be the path to results.
When it comes to interior design, Zen-inspired rooms usually feature low furniture, natural materials, lots of light, and very little clutter. Common natural materials include stone, bamboo, rattan, earthenware, and dark woods. Designers will often recommend neutral cream and beige for the walls, and restricting dark colors to the furniture. Red and black accents-- such as lacquer pieces-- can add a dramatic touch to an otherwise even-toned room. Furniture should also have clean, simple lines, as in modern and contemporary design. Avoid pieces with ornate details and asymmetry.
Whether you're adding Asian influence to a traditional or a modern home, you don't want to overdo it. Including even just one or two Asian symbols or accessories transforms the entire feel of the room. For example, a Buddha statue brings with it a whole history of cultural and religious associations. Paper lanterns, silk screens, and lacquer jewelry boxes will also immediately give your room an Asian feel for visitors.
Because of this, Asian can be an inexpensive style to emulate. Swapping in red accent pillows, a calligraphy scroll, or a religious icon can all help you achieve the style. A very casual room can still benefit from the surprise and cultural flair Asian design brings. Try adding potted cherry blossoms or bamboo window shades to bring both nature and an Asian influence to your informal setting.
Regardless of whether you're only including a few Asian accessories, or having a designer redo your whole home according to Zen or feng shui design philosophies, Asian influence will add culture, harmony, and worldliness to your home.
Written by Caitlin Crowley