By Kathryn Weber
Pan-Asian style is becoming a popular choice again for interior decorating. The style incorporates natural elements, handmade artwork and handcrafts. This room blends Thai accessories with a Chinese painted screen
The entire world these days seems caught up in a fast, digitized lifestyle, and that may explain the recent resurgence of traditional Asian design motifs. What we think of as the Asian style is a slow, uncluttered aesthetic of clean lines and natural touches. It's suggestive of a certain timelessness, like the Asian cultures that stretch back for thousands of years, and yet the style also manages to be contemporary and fresh.
What is "Asian" style?
Asian design influences have come in an out of style ever since the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century. And it's no wonder: This time-transcending décor relies heavily on arts and handmade crafts, and offers homeowners a rooted earthiness. The Asian style in the West has traditionally been heavily influenced by Chinese culture, as well as by Japan and its Zen decorating style. Contemporary Asian style ventures even further, echoing motifs from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and as far south as Bali.
Most recently, Zen decorating was popular, but this strictly uncluttered look with its severe styling felt too rigid. Today's Asian look is more informal and relaxed yet might be considered more iconic. Symbols and shapes that are classically Asian -- in particular, Chinese -- are showing up in new and exciting ways.
A new spin
Long relegated to the entrances of Chinese restaurants, guardian fu dogs can be found today in colorful glazes as objects de art for tabletops and bookshelves. Buddha heads have lost their antique feel and are being produced in stark white to teal blue to add a fresh pop of color to counterbalance their spiritual tranquility.
The calabash, sometimes called a gourd vase, with its figure-eight shape, is another iconic item taking on a fresh spin. A far cry from your Grandmother's blue Ming vases, the updated versions can be found in brilliant white with butterflies (vampdecor.com) or as lamps, such as the "Golden Gourd Lamp" (horchow.com). The "Fortune Teller Sconce" made up of two Chinese crystal balls makes a stylish, contemporary sconce out of these classic and ancient accessories (horchow.com).
Affordable and easy appeal
Another draw to Asian style is the affordability of artist-produced décor. Because many pieces are handmade, they exude an artisanal quality, making interiors feel as interesting as they are unique to the owner. Whether it's a simple wooden birdcage or a hand-painted wall hanging, Asian art objects are also abundant, and becoming more popular in today's interiors because of their calming, natural appeal and easy price point.
Wallpaper is another easy way to add a current twist on an old theme.
Wallpaper (Read 15 Fresh Ways to Use Wallpaper) adds instant charm and Asian influence for the entire room. Thibaut has a variety of Asian-inspired papers in their Shangri-La and Tea House wallpaper collections (thibautdesign.com). For more styles in wallpaper or decorative items search under Asian or Oriental.
Probably the best aspect of Asian design is that it's as appropriate in Western style as it is in Eastern or even contemporary interiors. And even if life has sped up, our homes don't have to go warp speed. Asian design can bring a fresh, yet thoughtful feel to your home. Check out some of the new looks in Asian decorating and accessories to update your home and move into the slow lane.
© Living Space by Kathryn Weber