Japanese interior style's popularity continues growing along with the trend for simpler living & using more natural materials in the recent years. However, designers have refused to merely copy the traditional ethnic patterns. Instead, a creative yet harmonious mix of modern and classic Japanese style emerged. Modern Japanese interior style is still inspired by the concept of "wabi sabi", but instead of the traditional asceticism, comfort and practicability are factored into consideration to adapt the design to current living standards. An icon that has been preserved in the style evolution is an all-time-favourite: straw tatami mats. Traditionally the core is made of rice straw, though now it is often synthetic material. The result is a floor that has a springy but firm texture, making it ideal for sitting and sleeping on. Indeed, the use of tatami mats is popular for many reasons. Read on to find out how they are both aesthetically and functionally amazing in many different modern settings! (Cover Photo Source: Pella Hedeby)
The "floor culture" in Asia is a fantastic way to save space — your apartment doesn't really need a bedroom because by bedtime, you can spread out your futons and the living room turns into a sleeping space. Tatami mats help make this a lot cozier. The concrete wall in this room surely adds a fun twist to what would've been a traditional Japanese room.
Since the tatami mats are meant to make the floor culture easier, wearing outdoor shoes onto tatami mats is a big no-no as outdoor shoes may bring in germs and dirt, and sleeping on a dirty surface isn't hygienic at all. Japanese homes nowadays won't have tatami mats as the only flooring. Therefore, it is common to see a raised tatami area in modern designs to separate it from other shoes-allowed areas of the home. What's even better is that this kind of space often has storage underneath. Smart, right?
A tatami area allows family and friends to sit, stand, or lie down anywhere they'd like. It serves the function of chairs, tables and beds without having the actual furnitures — imagine how crowded this space would look with a table, a bed, and some chairs in here! In other words, tatami mats' multi-functionality really makes your home look bigger.
In accordance with the recent movements teaching people to live more simply, Japan has been practicing the aesthetic principle of wabi since the ancient times, which means the absence of needless ornaments and the presence of simple practical elegance. Having a tatami area at home can definitely help with simplifying possessions as not many furnitures are needed on the tatami mats.
Although it is nice to have the comfort of sofas and chairs, they are in fact relatively new inventions. Sitting furnitures didn't exist in common homes before they were mass produced, and people didn't slouch or had alignment problems as much back then because they were forced to use their muscular and skeletal systems to support themselves when sitting on the floor. Since there is sitting, there is also getting up from the floor, which is beneficial to human body's essential muscles.
If there are elderlies in the household, they may find getting up from the floor too challenging. The design of this raised tatami area can help them with standing up, and the wall ledge addition is also a clever idea to add more comfortable writing or eating space for those who have stiff joints or leg muscles.
As we sleep, our body heats and moisture can become trapped within the materials. If there is no air flow, the moist and warm environment quickly becomes an ideal place for mildews and molds to form. Tatami mats have a "breathable" structure, allowing air circulation and any moisture to evaporate quickly. It is therefore an ideal surface to put futons and mattresses on because it is a natural humidity moderator.
Therefore, although it may not be possible to install tatami floors in every home, using loose ones underneath mattresses will be be not only stylish, but also cozy and healthy.
For those who like to read in bed, we love the idea of using tatami mats as headboards!
In cities outside of Asia, it can be challenging to find stores to buy tatami mats. In those cases, you can try inspirations like this Scandinavian improvisation. Although wood floors aren't as springy as tatami mats, the herringbone floors contrasting with a low coffee table is a fun clash between cultures — undeniably a true display of Japandi spirit!