Japanese Patterns and Motifs 1- Subconscious Taste

Seigaha and Yoroke Jima

“What a lovely Japanese home you have created!” said my interior designer boss when she visited.  I was shocked as I truly believed I decorated the house in a Western way after ten years of my life in London.  Our house underwent major building work in 2005 for a year and I was a project manager.  The experience sparked my interest in interior decoration and I went to KLC School of Design, as many South-West London madams do, followed by work experience for the aforementioned designer.  I know this was the wrong way around, but I was naive.  Not aware of my shock, my boss started pointing out “Japanesiness” in fabrics from Osborne and Little and wallpaper from Natasha Marshall.  They contained motifs of Japanese traditional patterns and I was attracted to these motifs, obviously this attraction was subconscious.  What is learned in the cradle is carried to the grave.  Do you find the image below Japanese? 


My Kitchen 2006

Japan produced so many beautiful patterns which profoundly influenced interiors in the West such as this de Gournay wallpaper.  These are pretty obvious that it is Japanese, but the patterns I am also talking about are the ones you are probably not aware of.   They can be even copied exactly as nobody has copyrights.  You will have encountered Japanese traditional patterns not knowing where they are from.  It is probably not known as widely but the composition of Ukiyoe or Japanese block print inspired impressionist painters in the West. 


Yusoku pattern x 3
Typical Japanese patterns designed between the 9th and 10th century
Yusoku Patterns at my house
My choice of fabrics and wallpaper 2005


A few years later, I started Biden and learnt a lot more about Japanese traditional patterns and motifs.  I became fascinated with their history.  They say the source of the designs are treasures in Shosoin repository which dates back to 756 when Empress Komyo dedicated over 600 items to the great Buddha at Todai-ji Temple in Nara, a former capital of Japan to express her love for her late husband Emperor Shomu.  It is one of the oldest wooden buildings in the world but its natural air-conditioning system preserved the exotic treasures in impeccable condition, with the raised floors and structure of log cabin.  These treasures are from ancient civilizations including Egypt, Persia and China, which had travelled along the Silk Road.      


Shosoin Patterns
Shosoin Patterns


The source of inspiration, Shosoin patterns, which were found in treasured fabrics are considered the most formal and high-class ones even today.  If you are going to a very formal tea ceremony party, you would wear kimono with Shosoin Patterns to show respect to the host.  To be continued…..












Kuniko Thompson

Kuniko Thompson

Founder of Biden Designs established in 2008. She is passionate about creating beautiful interiors working with designers, architects and Japanese craftsmen.

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