From the minimalism and order of Japan to the opulence of Thailand – elements of traditional East Asian design have captivated us for centuries, providing endless inspiration for our own homes. We take a look at some of the key themes and how they can be used to enhance both modern and traditional interior spaces…
A love of lines
A defining characteristic of much traditional East Asian art, the application of strong linear lines can be traced to age-old practises such as shibori, origami and calligraphy. Within our homes, distinctly formed lines have long been considered pleasing to the eye, promoting a sense of neatness and order – a notion confirmed by the enduring popularity of stripe and check designs. Lined fabrics and wallpapers that fall into sync with your home’s existing angles will have greatest effect, and can be played down in neutral shades for made to pop with brighter tones.
The depiction of landscapes is of such importance within East Asian art, that it even has its own term. Translating to “mountains and water” - Shanshui (Chinese), Sansu (Korean) and Sansui (Japanese) refers to a deeply impressive style of landscape painting, often featuring expansive mountain ranges, rolling hills or trees silhouetted against the skyline. Modern fabric and wallpaper interpretations pay homage to these classic scenes and the atmospheric colours with which they are traditionally associated. Often available as large-scale wall panels, they have the ability to transform a space and transport the viewer to a distance land of beauty and intrigue.
The art of storytelling
Cultures across the globe have used art as a vessel with which to carry their stories for centuries, depicting myth and legend in stunning detail. In Japan and China, hand-painted scrolls and traditional woodblock prints provided some of the earliest forms of storytelling, documenting accounts of epic battles, folklore-inspired stories of adventure, or simply narratives of everyday life. The enduring quality of these illustrations paved the way for modern interpretations, such as Chinoiserie, which, when applied to our walls and furnishings, bring an element of magic to even the most humble of spaces.
Flora & fauna
The flora and fauna of East Asia has captured our imaginations for many years, from arching willow boughs, striking acers and perfectly formed magnolia to the iconic cherry blossom, enhanced by the forms of cranes, peacocks and graceful koi carp. These motifs make for eternally popular additions to our homes, represented in pastel shades or arresting tones, but always bringing an atmosphere of sophistication to any space. The best way to showcase these designs, especially those with fine detail, is by giving them space - think floor-length curtains or a feature wall for maximum impact.
A touch of ink
A technique synonymous with East Asian art is the use of watercolour inks to dramatic effect. From clearly defined lines to subtle washes of colour, the mastery of ink seen throughout this culture is unsurprisingly much sought after within our homes. Abstract designs, reflective of traditional dyeing techniques, work beautifully to add subtle interest to walls if an all-over pattern or paint colour is too much, while painterly representations of flora and fauna emulate the peaceful atmosphere of a secluded garden, offering the antidote of tranquillity to our busy lives.
While contemporary designers often shy away from over-the-top decoration, a lot can be learned from East Asia’s love of grandeur. Many modern design houses have looked to traditional Chinese and Thai architecture and interiors for inspiration, producing lavish silks, fine embroideries and innovatively-printed wallpapers, all in jewel-rich tones that conjure the opulence of a royal dwelling. This style is enhanced by the addition of decorative objects such as gilded furniture, lacquered screens and fine ceramics, paying tribute to centuries of skilled craftsmanship.
Collections inspired by the Far East
Edo Fabrics & Akaishi Wallcoverings
Inspired by Japanese design ethos and culture, Edo Fabrics and Akaishi Wallcoverings from Zoffany provide a breath-taking interpretation of the natural world around us. The fabric collection comprises lightweight silk qualities, watercolour prints on natural linens, and delicate embroideries – the epitomé of fine craftsmanship, while the selection of wallcoverings includes a mix of conventional wallpapers and paper backed fabrics which will add a sophisticated zen-like ambiance to the interior spaces they adorn.
Dynasty Fabric & Wallpaper Collection
A fresh interpretation of chinoiserie with a modern twist, Dynasty combines the rich history and elegance of Asian culture in a selection of coordinating wallpaper, print, woven and embroidered fabrics. Inspired by the detail and beauty of a golden age, patterns range from striking large-scale florals and architectural bamboo trellises to beautiful painterly scenes featuring towering pagodas, lush trees and people. Presented in a vivacious palette of cherry pink, golden yellow and green, alongside inky blues and greys.