‘Yugen’ – Philosophy Behind Our Design

We recently received a compliment by a new client of ours, who explained how our projects evoke particular sentiments – specifically feelings such as love, and a sense of being welcomed.

This observation has been one of the best compliments we have received, and while very flattered by this acknowledgment, we would also like to share some insight into the connection this has with the philosophy behind our design.

There is a concept termed Yugen in Japan; described on Wikipedia as ‘profound grace and subtlety’.   

Nothing quite describes this concept as aptly as the 14th century poet and theorist Zeami, who suggests this term is something beyond what can be described with words.

Aman Kyoto

To watch the sun sink behind a flower clad hill.

To wander on in a huge forest without thought of return.

To stand upon the shore and gaze after a boat that disappears behind distant islands.

To contemplate the flight of wild geese seen and lost among the clouds.

And, subtle shadows of bamboo on bamboo.

– Zeami Motokiyo

By reading these evocative descriptions you immediately begin to visualise the scenes, and a feeling of content, calmness and an appreciation of the little details of life washes over you.

These emotions are what we endeavour to translate into the design of our clients’ homes.

Unlike the simple depiction of a ‘happy home’, we are not trying to create a ‘celebratory, big event’ type of happiness, but instead a more subtle feeling of contentment and serenity that you can find in every day.

Aman Kyoto

If we were to recreate Zeami’s poem in a modern, home context, it would be something like this:


To watch your young children, play together on Sunday morning, while you sit down uninterrupted for while and enjoy a hot coffee before it gets cold.

To watch robins fly to their nest homed in your back garden to feed their babies from your home office window.

To overhear your teenage daughter consoling her best friend over the phone and to realise what a kind and considerate young woman she has become.

It is something that can only be felt, that you will carry in your heart for decades to come.


Thank you for taking the time to read this journal. If you would like to speak with us directly about your home, you can take our ‘Find Your Plan’ form. Or, if you are interested in having inspirational content delivered straight to your inbox, you can also sign up to our monthly newsletter below. Don’t worry, we promise not to spam you!


Concluding with a personal favorite, Katsura-Rikyu (Katsura Imperial Villa) . While not celebrated solely for its gardens, this site, explored in a dedicated article, continually astonishes. It’s a testament to imperial families and aristocrats channeling their wealth to craft havens for nature appreciation—an epitome of ultimate luxury.

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