March 8, 2009

Zen Design Inspirations

When thinking of interior design, one usually sees spaces full of color and pattern, abundant with detail. Popular shelter magazines flood us with beautiful pictures of opulent, highly-decorative rooms, with a lot of decorative elements and furnishings, many layers of luxurious fabrics, and carefully placed objects. On the other side of the spectrum, we have a minimalistic design with simple, clean lines, ascetic spaces, minimal or no ornamentation whatsoever, interplay of textures and materials, and sparse use of color.

Not everyone has the opportunity of working with a designer, and even those who relay on the professional expertise, sometimes choose to replicate those magazine styles to the point. However, we need to keep in mind that in order to produce a personalized interior that is infused with our own style, we have to look beyond the universally given advice. Look for inspiration in other aspects of your life: nature, art, design of everyday objects, even religion and philosophy.

My own inspirations often come from unexpected places. Being interested in the psychology of the space, I realized that many objectives of a great interior design can be accomplished by complying to the aesthetic concepts of Zen philosophy. But this doesn't mean you have to become Buddhist to benefit from it! It only requires approaching each and every space based of the following values:
  • simplicity - achieve beauty and visual elegance by elimination and omission; try find the balance between "too much" and "too simple"
  • naturalness - creative restraint in use of elaborate designs
  • elegance - in the understated sense
  • unexpectedness - surprise will get more interest
  • concreteness - eliminating of non-essential objects
  • emotion - makes your space evoke strong positive feelings
  • use of negative (empty) space - to gain more focus on the feature element
  • suggestive rather than descriptive design - introducing to the interior one element at the time to culminate with a focal point (It is called "telling the story". This is my personal favorite, often used in my designs).

To try this stunning new approach, read Living with Zen by Ou Baholyodhin. Return often to this blog; I will relate to the Zen aesthetic concepts in my Deconstructing: Room-by-Room series.

And remember:
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" -Leonardo da Vinci


  1. Actually, modern design is more and more drawing Zen influences. It features space, not furniture or decor, and the end result is amazing.


  2. This is a great post.. Very informative... I can see that you put a lot of hard work on your every post that's why I think I'd come here more often. Keep it up! By the way, you can also drop by my blogs. They're about Vegetable Gardening and Composting. I'm sure you'd find my blogs helpful too.


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