Asian interior design is a virtual ocean of possibilities, depending on the taste and preference of the decorator. Focused on form, color and detail, Asian design varies widely from country to country, from the delicately painted vases of China to the tropical-influenced thatch and pastels of Southeast Asia. Whether choosing pen and ink paintings, heavily carved panels from Thailand, or Zen-inspired furniture, using the principles of Asian interior design can create a beautiful, peaceful home or office space.
It is important to remember that Asian interior design contains styles from many countries and cultures. While it is possible to choose design elements from one area or region, mixing and matching a variety of pieces from different countries and even eras can still create a seamless design. Choosing elements that are important to the decorator is often more important than total authenticity; it can create a personalized space that reflects the character of the inhabitant.
China has thousands of years of designs to choose from, and often contributes vivid and lively colors to Asian interior design. Chinese screens are often used as room dividers and may feature heavy wood carvings of landscapes, animals, and gods or goddesses. A major key to using Chinese pieces is to focus on a few simple accents, rather than crowding the room with too many ornate objects. Each piece should be able to catch and hold the eye individually.
When people think of Asian interior design, what often comes to mind is the simple lines and pale colors found in traditional Japanese homes. Rice-paper screens called shoji screens often substitute for walls, allowing light to filter through while maintaining privacy. Bamboo, stone and dark wood are common materials in Japanese-style Asian interior design. One classic piece of Japanese furniture is a low dining table surrounded by comfortable cushions. Diners sit on the cushions to eat, reclining or relaxing as is comfortable.
Much of Southeast Asian interior design is based on the tropical climate of the area. When the area is often hot and humid, heavy fabrics and dark colors only increase the oppressive feeling of heat. For designers who enjoy Asian style with a tropical flair, studying the traditional furnishings and floorplans of Vietnam and Indonesia can offer a wealth of design options.
For people more concerned with budget than collecting authentic or antique pieces, consider visiting a nearby city to scout for bargains. Many urban areas feature Asian cultural centers that include shops carrying Asian products of all kinds. While filling the house with Shang Dynasty vases may not be possible, the feeling of Asian design can still be achieved with a few traditional teapots and rice-paper screens.