A Short History | Zen

Zen first and foremost is a type of Buddhist practice which allows for a calm, clear, pure and wide open constant state of mind, through-out day-to-day living. Not only must this but a permanent attitude of loving kindness to all other beings never leave thought. Finally the meditation style, another technique used to create a conscious awareness of the mind and body is simply to sit quietly and remain focused on breathing. This is often called the ‘Zazen’ style. This being only a short summary, it only touches upon the key factors associated with the practice that is Zen.
Many see Zen as a lifelong pursuit, others see it only as a lifestyle choice and some simply use the philosophy within design to create a fluent living space. Nevertheless it includes many extremely important factors that are key to its use in any environment. Applying the principles of a way of living to a living space is a technique of spatial design that has been used for thousands of years.
Zen like interiors are more recently becoming more and more popular, most likely because it’s not all that difficult. If someone tells you that Zen interior design is about bamboo, bonsai , or minimalism with a ‘Japanese’ look – don’t fall for it.
Key elements to consider are: A small selection of quiet colours such as water, earth tones and neutrals A minimal approach to cluttering items such as decorative ornaments and rugs The arrangement of tables, chairs, walls to create a flowing living space Calmness, Clarity, Purity, Openness. . . The most important thing to consider when creating or reviewing a Zen interior, the space isn’t a radical exorcism of all home comforts. It is a nominal collection of objects and features that stimulate the senses. In turn forming an environment that cleanses the body and soul, ridding it from the over abundance of material goods in the modern world.
A Zen themed space generally treats stress and is often the result of a need to escape from the outside world. Hospitals are the best example of an interior that mimics some of its key qualities in an attempt to achieve this level of calm. However it doesn’t, it hides what must be seen in full clarity, and this is truly the focus of Zen. “Stillness, insight, and wisdom arise only when we can settle into being complete in this moment, without having to seek or hold on to or reject anything” (Jon Kabat-Zinn, 1996: 32).

< Back to all articles