Asian Furniture Design Basics

rice paper panels

Asian furniture design and interiors often focus on simplicity, balance, and harmony. Two popular styles of Asian décor are Japanese and Chinese designs.

Japanese Décor

Japanese form and style are centered around the use of subdued natural colors and textures. Japanese furniture is often constructed of natural materials, including woods like bamboo, maple, and woven wicker.

Most furniture is designed to have both form and function. Designs are often minimalistic and intended for multiple uses. For example, tansu cabinets — originally created to hold kimonos and clothing articles — are often used in contemporary homes as television cabinets or storage cabinets. They are simple in design, with little unnecessary decoration and often painted in muted colors like deep steel green or lightly stained in their natural wood.

Other types of furniture, like Shoji screens and lighting fixtures, are constructed from natural woods like maple and rice paper. Rice paper light fixtures create soft diffused illumination.

Chinese Décor

Color is extremely important in Chinese design. Common colors include red and black, which represent the dynamic concepts of yin (black) and yang (red). Central to the Asian concept of balance, yin and yang are often primary design elements in Chinese interior decorating. Other common colors in Chinese design include green (nourishment), white (immortality), and yellow (Earth).

Chinese furniture places value on quality and value. As a result, most Chinese furniture is decorated with elaborate designs of inlay of semi-precious and valuable materials like jade, ivory, silver, and gold. Chests are considered an extremely common type of Chinese furniture and most furniture is constructed from dark woods like mahogany or cherry. Alternatively, the use of high gloss lacquered furniture is also extremely common, particularly in black or red.

Privacy screens are also considered a valuable piece of furniture in the home. They not only provide a screen for privacy, but they also are often constructed of lattice wood and diffuse light from one area of a room into another.

Chinese decoration often centers around the placement of one or two pieces of high-quality furniture, among which simple floral arrangements, small lighting elements, or other small treasured pieces of art.

Feng Shui

Feng shui is a basic design approach in Chinese decorating that includes not only furniture placement, but the placement of other design elements. These elements include water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. By employing these different elements, it is believed that a person can create a harmonious environment of balance.

In terms of Asian furniture design, pieces of furniture that are constructed of one of the elements can represent the desired meaning. For example, in order to enhance the flow of energy in a room, a homeowner might choose to place a simple dark wood table in the center of a room with a floral arrangement or small arrangement of stones.