Design Principles – 4. Shizen (Nature)

We’ve reached the heart of our exploration in ‘The Japanese Art of a Calm & Balanced Home’ series. Today, let’s dive into the fourth principle, Shizen (Nature).

In Japan, nature is not a distant backdrop but an intrinsic part of life. With its distinct seasons and often challenging natural conditions, the Japanese have developed a unique appreciation for the transient beauty of their surroundings. Shizen, the principle we’re discussing, encapsulates this bond with nature.

Historically, the Japanese tea ceremony embodied this connection. Preparing and enjoying matcha green tea became a refined art, embracing elements of fine arts, architecture, landscape design, and etiquette. Chashitsu, or tea houses, were built, inviting harmony with nature. Simplicity and humility were at the core of the tea ceremony, reflected in architecture crafted from local materials like tatami mats, washi paper, and bamboo frames.

In our contemporary global context, embracing nature’s presence remains vital. We may not always use purely local materials in construction, but we honor the spirit by integrating nature-inspired designs and locally crafted pieces into our projects.

1. Embracing Natural Materials

Within the confines of our ‘Architecturally Revived Haven‘ project, the guest loo tells a story of natural authenticity. Traditional lime paint and hand-glazed zellige terracotta tiles transform the space. Lime paint, highly breathable and porous, regulates moisture while offering a soft, matte finish reminiscent of natural stone. Zellige tiles, crafted from natural clay, radiate weathered charm, each a unique piece like nature’s own diversity.

2. Tapping into heritage

In the ‘Culinary-Inspired Home‘ project, heritage finds a voice. Victorian floorboards are sanded to life, celebrating their history, while old bricks from the same era clad the walls. Echoes of the client’s cultural heritage emerge through antique pendant lights, decorative masks, and mudcloth cushions, all collected from the client’s home countries France and West Africa and brought together harmoniously.

3. Showcasing local artisans’ work

Artistry meets sustainability in our ‘Essence of Japan project, where local artisans shine. Oak vessels by Ash & Plumb, handcrafted from fallen trees, mingle with clay creations by Holly Dawes, shaped from beach-sourced wild clay. The harmony of these pieces resonates with the principle of Shizen, linking the space to the essence of the natural world.

If the calming balance of nature speaks to you, consider our guide as a companion on your design journey. Discover how we blend the Shizen principle with modern design to create inviting spaces that embrace the spirit of nature.

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