Scandinavian sensibilities have been influencing shape, texture and surface design ever since mid-century modern looks returned a decade ago. Today, they are immensely familiar. Japanese elements are more recent, but nonetheless established. Think lotus leaf motifs and sho sugi ban, the charred-wood look that rekindled a broader interest in black almost three years ago.
Now these two minimalist styles are converging in a style called Japandi.
The Japandi aesthetic is centered on natural materials and finishes, as well as earthy textiles, a neutral palette, expert craftsmanship and a functional, less-is-more character. Representing the intersection of hygge (the Nordic way to combat long dark winters with light and comfort) and wabi-sabi (a Japanese approach to life that finds beauty in imperfection), it has been one of the top emerging trends for interiors. And its audience is still growing.
Case in point: Pantechnicon. This London emporium (for lack of a better word) is less than one year old. It is dedicated to selling hard goods, soft goods, food and drink, all of Japandi-styling. The five-story building boasts two stores brimming with Japandi housewares, apparel, and gifts. As of this summer, a fourth Japandi-style eatery opened under the Pantechnicon roof.
Two months ago in London, in honor of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit opening at the Tate, the hotel Rosewood offered special dishes that blended Japanese flavorings with traditional fare. Examples: cucumber/cream cheese/sashimi sandwiches, and poached salmon with wasabi. Also, cheesecake with cherry blossom gel.
While we weren’t paying attention, Elda, a high-end restaurant featuring meals that fuse Japanese and Scandinavian tastes, opened in the small southern Maine city of Biddeford in December 2017. A relocation to a new address, followed by Covid-interruptus, paused celebrated Chef Bowman Brown from creating his Japandi-before-we-had-a-name-for-it creations. Last month, Brown not only reopened the $95-per-meal Japandi experience, but also debuted a counter service option downstairs called Jackrabbit. Go Maine.
Holiday lodgings in this style are popping up around the globe. One is the Japandi-centric Hotel K5 (20 room max capacity) in Tokyo. If your traveling Japandi fan club needs more room, Airbnb lists a handful of Japandi-ready vacation rentals in Bali, Malaysia, Sweden, and Palo Alto, CA.
On the décor side, Women’s Tennis Association legend Maria Sharapova and Rove Concepts teamed up to create a capsule collection of limited-edition pieces with a Japandi point of view: a sofa, bench, coffee and side tables, floor lamp and rug. It debuted in March of this year. Japandi has a following at the volume-selling level, too. Walmart and Target have begun offering wall art, window coverings, bedding, serveware and accent pieces that include the term Japandi in the description.
With these and other examples of this minimalist style gathering momentum, its future trend status in hospitality and décor seems ensured. But is Japandi diverse enough to infiltrate food? It might surprise you to learn that it already has.
A February post on the blog Design Stories, Japandi on a Plate — Try Out Tasty Fusion Food, suggests fusions like potato salad with soy sauce and sesame seeds, or substituting colored horseradish for wasabi in recipes.
Several Specialty Food Association 2021 SOFI award winners also point to a Japandi taste trend. For example, Silver-level winners Seed Ranch’s Umami Reserve Hot Sauce confirms that American palettes are tipping toward typically Japanese flavors. So does Stick+Tine’s Ginger Scallion Asian Everything Sauce from Fischer & Wieser. At the same time, natural materials like paper, rope, bamboo and grasses, crafted into delicate packaging with a Japanese aesthetic, also reinforce this direction.
Check out the gallery of Japandi images below. And tell us where you are seeing this style and taste trend in your travels, while shopping or on menus.