Western interest in Japanese furniture designs drastically increased once Japan opened its trade borders in the 19th century. The desire to create a simplistic, relaxing home environment surrounds the entire concept of Japanese home and interior design.
The Japanese use the concept of “ma,” the distance or space between two objects as the core of their designs. Ma is also described as a consciousness that imparts a feeling or particular sense on a person entering a room.
Contemporary furniture designers in Japan use ma to design a room. When a piece of furniture such as a chair, sofa or bed, is placed in a room, a Japanese furniture designer will focus on the space around the item to create the ambiance for the room. This technique is particularly useful in Zen furniture design where simplicity and technology meet art and function.
Japanese furniture designers tend to wrap their designs around simplicity. Primary materials used in top furniture designs are wood, rattan and bamboo. Darkwood is extremely popular, these woods are primarily used because of the unique lines and shapes produced. Furniture is generally kept to a minimum, particularly in a bedroom where ambiance, space and simplicity take over.
Japanese designs with a Zen-like influence have taken over the Eastern world, with the demand high for contemporary furniture designers’ work.
Top furniture designers, even in America, have begun to focus on Japanese or Zen designs. One of the most influential Japanese designers was Kappei (Katsuhei) Toyoguchi who was instrumental in creating furniture standards that have been built into the Japanese Industrial standard.
Another modern furniture designer who has influenced Japanese trends is Watanabe Riki who helped start the Japan Design Committee and the Japan Industrial Design Committee. He was also in charge of the interior design for some extremely infamous Japanese buildings using modern furniture design such as the Tokyo Hilton. He is also noted for designs that were works of art but yet affordable furniture and materials. In the 1950s, Riki came to America to study and began influencing and add Japanese designs to American furniture designs.
These days, many modern furniture stores carry designs that have been influenced by Riki or Toyoguchi/ When designing, consider using some of the Japanese furniture designs to create an element of ambiance to your room.