In 1960, a new design concept was introduced to the American public by the Editor in Chief of House Beautiful, Elizabeth Gordon. The new concept was named “Shibui” and by definition meant: describes a profound, unassuming, quiet feeling. It is a design concept that is unobtrusive, unostentatious and is never complicated or contrived. This simple design concept, while it was new to the United States in the 1960’s, dates back centuries in Japanese culture and features the design elements of simplicity, implicitly, modesty, silence, naturalness, everydayness and imperfection. Prior to the Shibui introduction in the United States, there was another concept taking place in Scandinavia. Similar to Shibui, Scandinavian design was focused on simplicity, minimalism and functionality. These two design concepts celebrate the “less is more” attitude towards design and focus on creating simple, beautiful, well-made spaces that utilize furniture to inspire peace and relaxation.
Similar to these design concepts is one we call “21st Century Zen™”. Here at Sensory Six, our belief is that spaces should create a total sensory experience– one that is modern, calming, organic, sophisticated and luxurious. By incorporating the highest level of function, aesthetics and wellness, we design and build spaces that give businesses a competitive edge and bring simplicity, comfort and peace to homes. Continue reading for ways to implement 21st Century Zen™ in your space.
Flowing forms are very prominent in the simplistic concepts of Shibui and Scandinavian design. It has an undulating form that is the embodiment of simplicity and naturalness. One of the first flowing form designs was the Aalto Vase for Italia designed by Finnish architect and designer, Alvar Aalto. It was introduced in 1937 at the Paris World’s Fair and has inspired simplistic design ever since.
Another element of simplistic design is the use of materials that create a serene environment. Architects, Tod Williams and Billies Tsien built a home on Long Island that is a perfect example of a serene space. The home was built using textural and natural materials like cedar, bluestone and Douglas fir. The use of glass within the home creates a spacious, clean feeling that shows off the simplicity of the design and allows the materials to stand out.
In modern design there is an emphasis on natural elements, water being one of the most important. It represents purification and in almost all cultures there are rituals associated with water. It represents the soothing qualities of a spa experience. Who wouldn’t want that in their home? To achieve a soothing space, try adding a water feature inside your home. It will remind you of a relaxing day at the spa.
An easy way to bring simplistic design that has roots in the Shibui is by having a Bonsai tree in your space. The Bonsai tree stresses harmony through asymmetry. The asymmetry of bonsai speaks to the concept of “sabi”, which stands for the deliberate imperfection. Japanese sensibility is epitomized by simplicity and the bonsai design is based on the lack of ornamentation which celebrates the naturalness of the Bonsai tree.
There is an emphasis of soft edges throughout modern design. Most Scandinavian furniture has soft, round edges that are even more popular today. One of the most popular Scandinavian designs is the “Favn” sofa by Jaime Hayon. This elegant sofa highlights the simplicity and gracefulness of Scandinavian design.
A home isn't just a home; it is also your sanctuary. It should feel peaceful and relaxing like you spent a day at the spa or salon. If an hour is all you can spare, indulge yourself with an afternoon pampering yourself. Spas and salons are designed to be airy, serene and beautifully lit and emphasize the overall experience. It is easy to achieve this feel by using soothing colors and elements you find in a spa.
These elements of simplistic design are easy and attainable, regardless of your design preference and how much of the Shibui and Scandinavian design you want highlighted in your home. Here at Sensory Six, we are excited to help our clients renovate their homes and create spaces that they love to spend time in. Whether you’re seeking to build a new home with simplistic design or update certain areas in your current home, we would love to work with you to design your dream! Call us at 518-306-1099 to set up a time to meet to discuss your favorite trends and how to bring them into your space.