An Exploration of Japandi with Erica Schalkwyk...


Some call it Japandi, others go for Scandinese or Japanordic, but the name doesn’t really matter.
The most important thing to know about this interior design style is that by combining Scandinavian simplicity and functionality with Japanese warmth and minimalism, it produces elegant and comfortable rooms. 

Japandi is sweeping the interior design scene, and it’s not hard to see why.

Its use of natural materials and simple designs means it’s right in tune with the eco-friendly zeitgeist. On top of that, it’s the ideal choice for people who love order and calmness in their home, blending natural elements with muted shades. 


 We had the pleasure of interviewing Erica Schalkwyk, the founder and creative director of Form Interior Decor & Design in Joburg, who shared her Japandi wisdom.

Schalkwyk believes Japandi is not simply an interior design style but a “philosophy of how you want to live your life, how you want to find beauty in the imperfect, how you want to have a deeper connection to Earth … (and) how you want to enjoy the simple pleasures, for instance, the warmth, comfort and safety of your home”. She says the “ultimate principles” of Japandi design are “a tranquil, holistic and functional interior space which emphasises a healthy and meaningful lifestyle”. Japandi is calming yet functional, sustainable and timeless. 

'A tranquil holistic and functional interior space which empahsises a healthy and meaningful lifestyle'

Japandi is multi-dimensional, and several building blocks are needed to achieve the final result, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, Schalkwyk says “there’s a big opportunity in … thrifting and restoration of meaningful and older pieces that have a Scandinavian tone and modernist style. Things like natural materials, for example, stone, wood and rattan, when done right, can be affordable. Creating a room of greenery and tranquillity is something that anyone can do on a budget, and that’s very Japandi”.

The calming element of Japandi is usually achieved through the use of natural materials, neutral colours and soft textures. This minimalist approach ensures the interior space is uncluttered, which promotes tranquillity.

'a room of greenery and tranquility is something that anyone can do...'


 Japandi draws inspiration from Hygge and Wabi Sabi. The former is a Danish concept that focuses on creating a cosy and comfortable interior space. It’s about the enjoyment of the simple pleasures in life and emphasises a warm and inviting atmosphere. The latter is a Japanese concept that values imperfection, simplicity and natural materials. Its priority is to find beauty in the imperfect and to embrace the natural cycles of life. Japandi also values simplicity, natural elements and imperfections. Ultimately, Japandi is the perfect blend of both of these concepts, says Schalkwyk. 

Houtlander Furniture pieces to achieve the Japandi Aesthetic

 Asked about her favourite element of Japandi interior design, Schalkwyk says:  It’s the simplicity and the neutral colour scheme. But most of all, it’s the natural element, using nature and paying tribute to nature. Both Japan and Scandinavia bring forth the idea that we must care for Earth and think about what we do to it. This in turn refers to the natural element of using wood, stone, rattan and linen, taking care of natural materials and preserving them, and using real quality materials.”

Sustainability is a key element of Japandi; the use of natural materials and a focus on minimalism means it’s environmentally friendly. Japandi embraces sustainable practices and encourages a mindful approach to living that extends into the physical space around you, including plants, natural light and outdoor views. Schalkwyk reminds us that life outside the home is chaos, so creating a tranquil interior space is where you can find your haven”.

'Both Japan and Scandinavia bring forth the idea that we must care for the earth and think about what we do to it'

Compliment Your Houtlander Furniture with other pieces from the Always Welcome showroom to Finalise the Aesthetic


Japandi’s simplicity and minimalism make it a style that’s easy to maintain and update. Japandi interiors are designed to be classic and enduring, with a focus on creating a space that will stand the test of time. This ethos is similar to ours at Houtlander. Schalkwyk speaks of “heirloom” pieces that “can go from generation to generation, which ties in with the respect for nature, sustainability and the economy, so we don’t just waste”.

Our Future Heirlooms project is a perfect depiction of this. Our pieces are not only practical and long-lasting but a delight to use. We take great care in sourcing our materials, using only sustainably grown and harvested white oak. This commitment to sustainability is at the heart of our ethos. Our aim is to create pieces that are cherished and passed down. Schalkwyk emphasises thatHoutlander is not just a furniture or artisan craftsman, it’s also a ‘philosophy’. It falls into this concept of the beauty and imperfection of the materials, and the closeness to Earth in terms of sustainability”. This perfectly highlights the alignment of Houtlander and Japandi. 

'Houtlander is not just a furniture or artist craftsman, it's also a "philosophy"


We asked Schalkwyk how she sees Japandi evolving. Her response: I think it will become more eclectic. The Japandi you see in magazines, Pinterest and Instagram has a very minimalist feel to it … but (I believe that it will become) more about adding things that mean something to you. Our homes have become precious to us, just like a treasure chest of who we are. The simplicity will become more eclectic, it will become a collection of who you are, rather than a style”.

'The simplicity will become more eclectic...'

Predicting the evolution of a design style is always tricky, but there are some potential trends and directions for Japandi interior design. One possibility is the incorporation of more colour, with growing interest in warmer tones and natural hues that can add depth and warmth to a space. Sustainability is likely to continue to be an important aspect of Japandi, with a growing emphasis on eco-friendly materials, but this may be taken to further depths. And Japandi may become more accessible and affordable as it wins even greater popularity. Overall, Japandi is likely to continue to evolve in response to changing tastes and needs, while staying true to its core principles of simplicity, mindfulness, and a connection to nature.

Thank you to Erica Schalkwyk for taking the time to speak to us about Japandi interior design.