minimalist home

7 Japanese Aesthetic Principles for a Minimalist Home Design

Nowadays, we often see minimalist elements in the works of visual artists, fashion designers, web designers, landscapers, and even custom home builders. Although some people might think that it is a modern concept, a closer look into Zen Buddhism might allow us to draw parallels between minimalism and Zen ideologies. The Japanese gave names to these principles and incorporated them into their designs.

Kanso (簡素)

This word literally means “easiness” or “simplicity” and refers to the removal of clutter. Kanso expresses things in a simplistic but natural manner, and is meant as a reminder to not emphasize decoration, but to focus on clarity instead. The clarity of kanso can be achieved by excluding or eliminating the unnecessary and non-essential. When designing your home, keep it clean and simple, and avoid decorating too much.

Fukinsei (不均整)

Fukinsei is the element of Japanese aesthetics that stands for irregularity or asymmetry. Zen upholds the idea that balance can be controlled through irregularity and that there is a balanced asymmetry. In art, asymmetry could indeed evoke a certain beauty that is engaging and dynamic, so do not shy away from irregularities in your home design.

Shizen (自然)

Shizen is an adjective that means “to be natural”. It endorses intentional but unforced creativity through the absence of artificiality or pretense. We do not accidentally design an environment that feels natural — we deliberately create it despite seeming spontaneous. Manifest shizen by including nature in your design with purpose and intention, such as allowing natural light to illuminate entire spaces.

Shibumi (渋味)

The word itself refers to simple and unobtrusive beauty. It is how things can be beautiful just by being the way it is, without having to emphasize its aesthetics. Shibumi can be represented by simple yet elegant designs that are not being flashy.

Yugen (幽玄)

Yugen is the preference of the profound suggestion over revelation. An example of this would be Japanese rock gardens, which are designed as a collection of subtle but deeply symbolic elements. In visual arts, especially in photography, yugen is portrayed by implying that there is more, without showing everything. Interior design uses the “less is more” notion by expressing luxury through clean, precise and functional furniture design and placement.

Datsuzoku (脱俗)

It means “keeping aloof from worldly affairs” or “freedom from habit”. Datsuzoku is escaping the ordinary by being unconventional. When designing a minimalist home, conventional design concepts should not hold you back and you should be free to explore ideas that may seem out of this world.

Seijaku (静寂)

minimalist home interior

Seijaku can mean “tranquility”, “stillness” or “solitude”. When you see or visit a Japanese garden, you might feel a sense of calmness, and this is what seijaku is about. It could be summed up by how Zen designs achieve tranquility through stillness and solitude. Allowing a lot of open space in your home design may evoke seijaku.

Though minimalism mainly deals with simplicity and plainness, your design should still have elements of your character. No matter which design style you follow, personalize your design as much as possible, especially since it is for your home.