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Japandi Vs. Wabi-Sabi: How To Tell Them Apart, They Are NOT The Same!

Updated: Feb 10

If you are an interior designer, an enthusiast, or just looking for design inspirations - you have probably heard of Japandi style, maybe you've even heard of Wabi-Sabi if you're a true design enthusiast, that is! But do you know how to tell them apart?

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Both are very similar, yet opposite in philosophy.

Japandi and Wabi-Sabi are two distinct design styles, both with origins in Japan. Although they may share some similarities, some differences set them apart:

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Style: Japandi is a hybrid design style combining Japanese minimalism elements with Scandinavian design.

It is characterized by a fusion of clean lines, natural materials, and a muted color palette.

Japandi style emphasizes simplicity, functionality, and balance. It often features furniture with a minimalist design, such as low-profile beds, clean-lined sofas, and simple shelving.

Materiality: The Japandi style also incorporates natural materials such as wood, stone, and bamboo, with a focus on texture and grain.

Color Palette: The color palette is typically neutral with shades of black, white, gray, and beige.

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Style: Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic philosophy emphasizing the beauty of imperfection, impermanence and authenticity. It is characterized by a rustic, organic, and unpretentious style that celebrates organic & natural materials and textures, especially ones with character & flaw. Wabi-Sabi values simplicity, humility, and naturalness. It often features handcrafted objects, such as pottery, ceramics, and textiles, that showcase the imperfections of the maker's hand.

Materiality: Wabi-Sabi style also incorporates natural materials such as raw wood, stone, and clay, focusing on their natural imperfections, such as knots, cracks, and textures. Fabrics with texture, such as linen, also pair well with this style.

Color Palette: The color palette is typically muted and earthy, with shades of green, brown, and charcoals.

Were you able to spot the differences between the Japandi living room & the Wabi-Sabi living room?

The Japandi-style living room included sharp edges, clean lines & lighter wooden tones. Smooth surfaces take center stage, while Scandinavian-style elements & furnishings were incorporated. The overall look is more crisp & minimal.

The Wabi-Sabi living room consisted of more rounded and organic edges, curvilinear shapes and texture (lots of it!). Here we see nature and craftsmanship are infused in various elements, creating a rustic, minimal and cozy space, while adhering to design principals of balance and harmony.

The Wabi-Sabi space should evoke interest and depth, while the Japandi one focuses on minimalism & simplicity.

In summary,

Japandi is a fusion of Japanese minimalism and Scandinavian modern design emphasizing clean lines, natural materials, and a muted color palette.

Wabi-Sabi, on the other hand, is a Japanese aesthetic philosophy that values the beauty of imperfection, authenticity, and naturalness. It celebrates organic and unpretentious design that showcases natural materials and textures, often with a muted and earthy color palette.

Another difference between Japandi and Wabi-Sabi styles is their approach to space and clutter.

Japandi living room
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Japandi favours a clean and minimalist approach to design, where less is more. It seeks to create a sense of spaciousness by minimizing visual clutter and simplifying the environment.

Objects are carefully selected and placed in a thoughtful manner, creating a harmonious balance between form and function.

wabi sabi furniture
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In contrast, Wabi-Sabi embraces the beauty of imperfection and the natural decay of objects over time. This style values the use of aged or worn objects, which bring a sense of history and character to a space. Wabi-Sabi also celebrates the art of "Kintsugi," which is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold, making the repaired object even more beautiful than the original.

Wabi-Sabi spaces are designed to feel organic and unstructured, with objects arranged in an unplanned manner that feels organic and natural.

The two styles share many similar elements but maintain distinct philosophies and styles.


Clean lines, sharp edges, tidy & sleek, modern & minimal. Follows principals of design more closely.

Materials: Cotton, sheer & light/airy textiles, smooth light-coloured woods, bamboo, teak, glossy stonework, marble, modern wall panelling. Steer clear from patterns.

Colors: Neutrals, White, Beige, Black


Curves, texture, rustic elements, non-cluttered yet not perfect either. Aged elements, organic & odd shapes. Celebrates imperfection.

Materials: Natural woods, Linen & natural textiles, clay/concrete/mud, plants. Some textured patterns OK in moderation.

Colors: Neutral, beige, brown, earthy greens & charcoal.

It is not uncommon to mix the two styles to create a harmonious look & balance between modern & organic. Here is the outcome:

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Image sources: Pinterest, we were unable to locate some of the original images, but would love to credit their owners! Get in touch if you would like us to credit your work!


Drama Queen
Drama Queen


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