japandi furniture and home decor
Composite by VICE staff

Tired of Living in an IKEA Showroom? Japandi Design Is Here to Save the Day

A portmanteau of Japan and Scandi, this minimalist style is the cooler cousin of Nordic minimalism, and will boost your hygge at least 10 points.
New York, US
Ian Burke
Brooklyn, US
May 7, 2021, 8:49pm

You know it when you see it. It’s smooth, angular, slightly retro, but not Tilda Swinton. It’s [drumroll] Japandi design, which is evocative of IKEA, but not as soulless, and Googie, but not quite as loosey-goosey. No, Japandi is a little more buttoned-up than that. Not in a holier-than-thou way, but in a “my button-up is buttoned down, and it’s made of linen” way. The emerging design trend takes the very best of Scandanavian mid-century aesthetics and blends it with elements of pared-down Japanese design. It’s low-profile bed frames and functional coffee tables. It’s minimalist nightstands and elegant shitboxes for your cat.

We love Japandi. But it’s kind of funny how it’s re-emerging, given that Japan is where Scandinavians originally took inspiration for aesthetic movements like [pinkies out] Japonisme.” Minimalism is almost inseparable from Scandinavian design today, but it hasn’t always been that way. Have you seen this divine, medieval gingerbread house? Vikings were maximalists, baby, whilst Japanese minimalism can be traced back to the sixth and seventh centuries. Then the 1930s came around, Alvar Aalto said #IDidAThing, and (among other factual, historical design details we’re not qualified to build a thesis on), shablam! Minimalism got traction in Scandinavia. Now, it’s the basis of Kanye West’s home.

Anyways. The whole love affair revisted is a little incestuous, and very adult, which is cool because we have a Criterion subscription. Consider Japandi our new basis for building intimidating, yet relaxing home design in 2021, because we want nothing more than an elevated, pared-down vibe after this insano, stressful year. So we’ve rolled out the white-tufted carpet for a smorgasbord of fitting decor—be it Japandi, Japanese minimalist, or Scandinavian minimalist—to artfully arrange in your home for the look.   

Can’t wait to almost spill our pasta sauce on it. 

This living room ain’t big enough for the two of us

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Look at that leggy stance! Would most definitely win in a Wild West gun fight. Good thing it’s staying in our living room. Stack some TASCHEN art books in its middle shelf, you erudite host.

Burnes Coffee Table with Storage, $259.99 at Wayfair

Dresser to impresser


You know shibori, that cool traditional Japanese tie-dye? Oh—well, if you didn't, that's what shibori is. Usually you find it in shades of indigo on a white or cream background, and this friendly little credenza adds a kick of it to your entryway or makes an ideal stand for perching your Roku. Fun fact: "roku" means "six" in Japanese. 

Deny Designs Japandi Style Credenza, $693.99 $589.89 at Overstock

For plants and your butt


It’s 2021; we’re done with stools that don’t also function as a side table. And, true to the made-to-last spirit of Japandi, this one's durable steel construction means it’s not going anywhere soon. 

Bento Table Stool, $195 at Industry West

Shed some light on the situation


This wooden curtsy of a floor lamp reminds us of a Penrose triangle, in that it’s fun to look at, and we don’t think it exists in nature. The warm wood tones are sure to add some *figurative* richness to your tiny, “one-bedroom” studio apartment.

Gaffel Floor Lamp, $189 at Scandinavian Designs

“It’s not a lamp, it’s a light sculpture.”

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Just imagine saying that to your date—fernet in-hand, of course—while your turtleneck grazes your chin. Isamu Noguchi was a master artist of minimalist Japanese design, and if you need any more convincing go to the museum he designed in Queens, New York. (And peep the level of Nogucheness in Troye Sivan’s Architectural Digest home tour.)

Isamu Noguchi Akari Floor Stand Lamp, $196.20 at Etsy

Straight and simple, the Alexander Skarsgård of couches


We were going to go with a Ben Affleck comparison, but we couldn’t decide who we’d rather sit on. This couch, on the other hand, is an easy choice. The clean lines and neutral shades will fit perfectly into your living room’s new vibe. (Warning: You may start explaining hygge to strangers.)

Garren 75.6" Square Arm Sofa, Heather, $399.99 $349.99 at Wayfair

Fill it with dildos


… Or your CPAP machine, or your weed stuff, or whatever gear you’d rather sequester to the confines of your bedroom. We’re not peeking. 

Akana Nightstand, $449 at Scandinavian Designs

In case you forget how the heavenly bodies work


It’s time to take down the crooked matrix of thumbtacked Polaroids you’ve had since the ol’ twin XL days, and finally invest in some wall art. (They don’t have to be expensive to look expensive, by the way.) 

Terracotta Day and Night Earthy Print, $10.06 at Etsy

Jump three levels of adulting 


If your mattress is still on the floor, we can’t help you. (Actually, we can.) This sturdy and subtle bed frame is what Japandi is all about. And, on the off chance Japandi becomes cheug in a few years (it won’t), it’s versatile enough to meld into any mid-century motif. 

Newt Low Profile Platform Bed, $199.99 at Wayfair

Your midsommar altar


… Or nightstand. Whatever. But if the flower crown fits!

In the Flesh Side Table 10, $395 at Industry West

Shitting in the house, but make it ~tasteful~


There are better ways to poo, kitty cat. Same goes for your pet. (There’s a lot of cat furniture out that isn’t hideous, actually.)

Dyad Litter Box Enclosure, $139.99 $115.04 at Wayfair

And as a reminder, only having an Xbox and a lawn chair in your apartment isn’t minimalist. Or Japandi.

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