The Shocking Effects of IKIGAI on Interior Design

There’s a reason we’re obsessed with design. Our world is flooded with images of beautiful interiors, cozy firelit living rooms, and stunning dining rooms with draping chandeliers because we all need an escape from the stresses of daily life. BUT the newest trend, Ikigai, rooted in a long-standing Japanese ideology, may alleviate some of this need for an oasis… what does that mean for the world of design? We discuss here!

What is Ikigai?

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Though there is no exact English translation for the concept of Ikigai, it can roughly be explained as “the reason you get up in the morning.*” To discover Ikigai, you have to examine a few different things. First, figure out what you love. Then, find where this overlaps with your skill set. Finally, figure out how this overlap can be applied to what the world needs and what you will be paid for.

With Ikigai, you disappear into your work. Otherwise known as “getting into a flow,” time disappears when all of these characteristics align. We’re sure that most of you have felt this more than once in your life. You’ve been so engrossed in a particular project--maybe a Showcase or a specific client’s Master closet--whatever it is, you lose yourself in the drive, enthusiasm, and skill necessary to produce successful results. And this can happen in any industry!

Theoretically, when you find Ikigai, stress is no longer a factor. It’s “your calling” and suddenly those long hours, big demands, and challenging tasks are something you look forward to. It’s the reason you get up in the morning.

How Will Ikigai Affect Interior Design?

We believe this sudden interest in the concept of Ikigai will have a couple of effects on the design industry. Both from the outside-in as well as the inside-out.

First, the discovery of Ikigai will decrease the need for our homes to function as “escapes.” Rather than needing a refuge from our daily 9-5, we’ll begin to find interest in incorporating it into our lifestyles both at home and away. Because of this, we can see a larger emphasis placed on home offices. Especially, as the internet continues to open up the opportunity for remote work, creating the ideal hub for finding that Ikigai flow will be as important to design as perfecting the Master Bedroom.

A beautiful home office designed by Kendall Wilkinson Design. Photographer: Lisa Romerein

A beautiful home office designed by Kendall Wilkinson Design. Photographer: Lisa Romerein

Sustainable bamboo cabinets were used for this tidy home office designed by The Wiseman Group. Photographer: Matthew Millman

Sustainable bamboo cabinets were used for this tidy home office designed by The Wiseman Group. Photographer: Matthew Millman

Secondly, with a decrease in the need for comfort, escape, and tranquility, interior designers may find more opportunity to go for abstract innovative concepts in homes. People may no longer crave the currently-popular serenity of crisp white walls, neutral palettes, and minimalist furnishings. Instead, vibrant abstract art, wall colors, and furnishings may see a rise in demand.

Designer Alison Damonte’s colorful “Magic Factory” studio. Photographer: Bruce Damonte

The incredibly chic office of Lane McNab Interiors. Photographer: Aubrie Pick

The incredibly chic office of Lane McNab Interiors. Photographer: Aubrie Pick

The second way we see this trending concept affecting design is through interior designers’ realization of their own Ikigai. As a client-facing business, one of the hardest parts of the job can be nailing down your brand, voice, and aesthetic. There’s a constant debate amongst designers about whether or not they should have a defined style or be known for expertly creating morphing to match their clientele.

Either way, as interior designers focus on where their passion meets skill and produces the greatest results, we’ll begin to see better, high-quality interiors and more organized interior design firms. Hiring Principals, junior designers, and others will become more strategic--finding persons with Ikigai that complement yours rather than duplicate or compete with it. The industry will be propelled forward by the enhanced projects and stronger teams.

An eclectic bathroom designed by Regan Baker Design.

An eclectic bathroom designed by Regan Baker Design.

A modern glam kitchen designed by Melanie Coddington. Photographer: David Duncan Livingston

A modern glam kitchen designed by Melanie Coddington. Photographer: David Duncan Livingston

Contemporary great room by Allison Caccoma. Photographer: Stacy Bass

Contemporary great room by Allison Caccoma. Photographer: Stacy Bass

Textural Mid-Century Living Room by Ann Lowengart Interiors. Photographer: David Duncan Livingston

Textural Mid-Century Living Room by Ann Lowengart Interiors. Photographer: David Duncan Livingston

Warm eclectic dining room by Heidi Caillier Design.

Warm eclectic dining room by Heidi Caillier Design.

What Do You Think?

These opinions are, of course, simply speculation. We’d love to hear your thoughts on Ikigai and its effects on this industry. Reach out to us on Facebook or Instagram to let us know your thoughts.

*A quote from Yukari Mitsuhashi, BBC Capital