Asian American Design & Decor Tips

Asian American Design & Decor Tips

Interior Design
Decoration and Design
By Mateos Glen Hayes June 06, 2022

Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage is strongly felt in the United States; with vibrant communities in California to hardworking neighborhoods on the East Coast contributing to the cultural tapestry of the country. As you might expect, Asian American design and decor are just as diverse as the Asian American community itself, and as such, there is a huge amount of beautiful variety to explore.

In light of rising anti-Asian violence in the United States, it is all the more important that we celebrate and support these communities in any way we can. The AAPI community has played a huge role in the American story and its many achievements have played a defining role in the history of this country. In recognition of these amazing contributions, let's give a shout-out to Asian American decor styles and explore the various ways in which you can integrate these designs into your home.    

Asian American Decor

https://stock.adobe.com/ca/images/blank-empty-canvas-picture-frame-for-mock-up-in-chinese-traditional-style-living-room-3d-rendering/376023267 Asian interior design comes in many forms due to the vast variety of Asian cultures.

As any experienced interior designer would tell you, there isn’t one single item or detail that you can point to and say is definitively AAPI, because Asian decor is a hugely diverse category with all manner of different options. Of course, there are some prominent examples of Asian interior design that tend to be more popular throughout the country, with Japandi-type designs being the most obvious example. These kinds of designs are a distinctive blend of Scandinavian minimalism and the curvy natural forms found throughout Japanese interior design, making for a look that is minimalist but not so much as to be devoid of personality.

Asian designs can sometimes be referred to as ‘Oriental design’, but we would encourage you to not use this term since it lacks specificity and has come to be considered antiquated and even offensive in some circles.

Because Asian design is in many respects about various Asian motifs interacting with other design styles and creating something new, it is not uncommon for Asian interior style to feature a balance between various eras, between old and new, between the glitzy and the subdued. For instance, an Asian-style home might be a Mediterranean-style room with wooden ceiling beams but be filled with various pieces of decor and Asian-style furniture that come from different eras but blend together tastefully.

This gives off an eclectic vibe that is a quintessential element in Asian American design. Why quintessential? As with many minority groups in the US, the Asian American experience can often be defined by having to negotiate various identities in a world that is not always welcoming to them. That means you may feel pressure to conform to various different societal expectations, and that push and pull can be a struggle. However, it also produces some unique and striking aesthetic collisions between various aesthetic motifs, showing that even seemingly disparate cultures or styles can coexist harmoniously.  

Essential Goals of Asian American Design

With that being said, let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about what some concrete goals of Asian design can be. After all, having a specific set of action items makes for a more cohesive design philosophy, and that can be rather helpful if you want to emulate this design style in your home. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that none of these principles are necessarily universal, and different types of Asian interior design may not approach things in the exact same way. 

Minimalism

As exemplified by Feng Shui, minimalism is a common element of Asian interior design.

As exemplified by Feng Shui, minimalism is a common element of Asian interior design.

Drawing from Japandi design and Feng Shui, many Asian designs will emphasize a sense of minimalism, although this is not always the case. Having said that, it is still a good principle to go off of because it allows you to keep your design layout uncluttered, and this means you can better envision a busier design if that is what you end up wanting later.

Put simply, it’s a lot easier to ‘see’ your future design if your home’s interior isn’t stopped up with too much decor or accenting. Plus, certain philosophies such as Feng Shui aim to reduce negative energy in your space and maximize positive attributes such as happiness, productivity, etc.  

Natural Color Palette

Asian designs emulate the colors of nature.

Asian designs emulate the colors of nature.

Your average ‘traditional’ American home is usually filled with muted neutral colors on the walls and exterior, making for a look that sometimes comes off as rather bland. Asian American design rejects this by going for more vibrant natural colors that aim to emulate the various colors seen in the natural landscape. This means your home will look more visually interesting and will also be more harmonious with the natural features in your local area.  

Smaller Scale 

In general, Asian American design focuses on smaller scale designs, meaning smaller Asian-style furniture, smaller pieces of decor, and smaller overall homes. This means that the little space that is there is used in a highly efficient manner, further increasing the utility of the minimalist aesthetic by maximizing usable space. In other words, while an Asian design may feel small it will not feel cramped thanks to smart design. 

Asian designs often maximize space efficiency.

Asian designs often maximize space efficiency.

Earthy Materials

As we strive to be ever more connected to the environment and to adopt more eco-friendly decor choices and lifestyles, it only makes sense to integrate more natural materials into the design process. In Asian interior design, this comes in the form of items such as natural stone tubs, hardwood flooring, stone walls, bamboo decor, and plenty of decorative pieces made of wood.

Additionally, Asian designs are big on allowing in lots of natural light. This is part of preventing the designs from feeling cramped and it also allows you to reduce your electricity consumption. This is usually achieved with larger windows and skylights, whereas a more open concept design can maximize this effect with higher ceilings as well.  

Tips For Bringing Asian Design Into Your Home

Alas, if you feel inspired to create your own Asian-style design interior, you may feel lost as to how to get started. A lot of these principles require some pretty significant home improvement projects to put into effect, but fortunately, you can get started with some relatively simpler steps. Here are a few ways to start on your journey towards an Asian-inspired home interior.

The right decor can add texture and character to the space in a big way.

The right decor can add texture and character to the space in a big way.

Adding Texture 

Adding layers and texture to your design in a balanced way is a great way of setting the tone for Asian home decor. This means achieving harmony of colors, elements, and textures in such a way that is interesting but not overdone. Work towards balance by adding ‘textured’ decor elements such as bamboo blinds, organic textiles, greenery, and natural stone decorations. 

The Perfect Backdrop

Creating a great backdrop with Asian decorating techniques gives your design a prominent centerpiece that can give you a framework for bringing the rest of the design together. We recommend keeping the backdrop relatively neutral in color and composition by focusing on natural browns or even light blues and light cream colors. The point is to make a soothing backdrop for a more relaxed ambiance, so if you are going to add anything more it is best to keep it to a minimum.

A backdrop does not have to be busy to be beautiful.

A backdrop does not have to be busy to be beautiful.

Water Features 

This applies to all-natural decorative elements. Running water is considered to be a vector for positive energies in the Feng Shui design philosophy, but you can also add greenery in the form of an indoor garden, bamboo, or of course the iconic bonsai trees. Whatever you choose the most important thing is to keep your decorative items relatively balanced for a serene effect.

Better Lighting

Even something as simple as improving your lighting can set you on the right path for a beautiful Asian interior. Simply focus on increasing the brightness of your existing lighting with LED light bulbs, and maybe add some more lighting fixtures. You can even go for something aesthetically appropriate such as Indian-style lanterns, or paper lanterns from the Far East. Finally, increasing natural light is another good move that yields many benefits in Asian decoration.

Written by
Mateos Glen Hayes

Written by Mateos Glen Hayes