Thursday, March 25, 2010

White is BLANK

Alright... so what's up with all the freaking white in Modern Japanese Home Design?

Leafing through countless Japanese Home Design magazines and books, I keep seeing interesting shapes and textures but always in WHITE.

Here's a just a few samples:

So the question is... why???
Is it to make the rooms look more spacious?
Is it cheaper to build?
Does it look cleaner?
Is it the Zen influence?
A rejection of traditional sand colored walls?

For me
White is... hospital rooms, asylums, sterility.
White is...the Great White Expanse that is Canada, a paradox of untouched beauty, birth and beginning but also a representation of distance and loneliness. the color of death in Buddhism. the untouched canvas, indecision and writer's block.
White is blank.

What are your theories and thoughts?


  1. Nice to see your blog.
    I'm currently getting a house built in Mitakadai.
    Been living in the area for over six years now.
    See you around,


  2. Hard to say exactly why. My observation of Japan is that they are obsessed with "packaging" compared to other cultures. Maybe uniform white allows for uniform visual packaging? If color was unleashed, it could be a visual cacophony.

  3. Another possibility. White allows pure form to shine through, versus having it being sullied by content & color. Maybe this "purity" of space is needed to balance the jumble of the external world? It certainly feels very mathematical and of the world of ideals. It's the lotus without the roots. The floating world, without the world.

    But I sympathize with you. The colors in Sri Lanka & Mexico demonstrate that the visual palette for housing can comfortably extend beyond whiteness. And these are earthy cultures, with roots firmly in passions and dirt. More world, less floating.

  4. Hi Marcus,
    Which builder and architectural firm are you going with? At which stage of the building process are you at?
    It would be great to compare notes.

  5. Hi Leandro,
    Someone pointed out on Facebook that it's not just a Japanese phenomena and provided links to modern American designs which showed the same white neutral color scheme.

    I like your theories though. And though I love the colorfulness of Mexico and South East Asia, i could see that tiring me out.

    Maybe I'm looking for diversity in the home to balance things out.