Have you been inspired to bring some serenity and zen into your living spaces – indoors or outdoors – for the new year? Consider turning to the East for inspiration with a calm considered design that will provide a peaceful and relaxing space. What better way to embrace the Japanese culture of Zen.
Japanese gardens are designed – not only for considered reflection but to enhance the experience of meditation. As a concept and practice, Zen principles were embraced by the ruling elite as a way of calm during the swirling storm of the country’s discord. The end result is a time-honoured culture which has become deep-rooted in civilization.
Japanese gardens favour blank spaces, carefully raked gravel or contrasting sheets of moss with a minimal amount of perfectly placed plants. Part of this reasoning is that it is thought to make any garden look more spacious. Even if you’re working with a plot just three metres by five metres or even smaller – which is the size of many courtyards or dry gravel gardens – this enhances that sense of space.
Do Your Research
Designing and creating your own indoor/outdoor garden may seem like a cinch. A few rocks here a few bamboo sticks there and you’re all done, right? Wrong.
Japanese gardens are an art form that has been around for centuries and in order to create an authentic design, the form must be studied carefully. Luckily the resources to create your very own oasis are endless.
Garden Types to Consider
The Moss Garden – Japanese culture venerates age and history. Because moss doesn’t grow overnight – and instead takes years and years to cover the surface of stone this is deemed a definite choice and something of virtue for whoever is creating the garden.
One of the moss plant’s characteristics is that it thrives in a humid and rainy climate. It doesn’t need much water (important as our climate proves more and more unpredictable) and can absorb nutrients directly from the air regardless of any humidity that may occur.
The Rock Garden – Traditionally, Zen rock gardens are not meant for social occasions or gatherings. It is a sacred space for Zen monks to perform their daily practice. This design is meant to portray a vista of mountains and rivers, yet the minimalist design itself contains no actual water. Instead, it uses the carefully placed features to emulate a majestic scene on a miniature scale. For example, sand and gravel raked into a particular pattern will symbolize a river, while rocks placed on the sand symbolize mountains.
It may surprise you to know that there are only a couple hundred people in the world that claim to have created an authentic Japanese Zen garden.
Want to create your place of calm and balance?
These design tips can be used to bring calm to any space whether it be a quiet room in an office for employees to take a minute or the spa section of your hotel to add that ambience of calm and reflection.
Although the design of such a space can take some time, just work through the stages so as not to overcomplicate matters. Start with an understanding of the ancient foundations of Zen and the principles of Japanese garden design. Make sure you have the right space and tools to incorporate it into the designated space that you wish to transform.
Once completed, your reward is that you will have a space that brings you peace of mind with the added bonus that you’ll have learned the history behind your design, giving your space a purpose that is based in the roots of Japan’s cultural history.