Whether you consider yourself an artist or just a “dabbler,” there is something so wonderful about the Japanese art of Sumi ink painting. A close relative of calligraphy, Sumi ink painting is usually a monochromatic technique that relies on water-based inks along with special pens and brushes. Whether it is calligraphic writing or Sumi painting, there are four essential implements in this East Asian art form: they are the paper, ink, brush and inkstone. In China these four items are known as the Four Treasures of the Study, and in Korea the Four Friends of the Study.
Archive for the ‘Japanese Decor’ Category
As someone who watches consumer trends and attempts to predict new ones, I am always fascinated at how they seem to “trickle down” from one segment of our culture to another. Environmental concerns are a terrific example of this. Once the domain of the auto industry and other emissions-producing corporations, it soon became apparent that we all needed to become ecologically-conscious consumers.
Just browse the aisles of any local garden center and you are likely to find plenty of stone statues to accent your garden. Depending on where you shop, these “statues” may range from small ducks and frogs to large gargoyles and lions. As someone who has never been a fan of garden ornaments, I never expected to find a genre of garden sculpture that intrigued me, but that was before I found this unique collection of volcanic stone statuary. It may be difficult to find these spiritually inspired monuments in your typical garden center, but they are available online at Chopa.com.
As more people embrace the healing benefits of meditation, they learn that some “accessories” are essential to this practice. While it’s certainly possible to sit on a mat in your living room and meditate, many people find it nearly impossible without a proper cushion and a meditation gong or chime.
Over the centuries, the Japanese art form called Ikebana has grown to become a modern form of expression around the world. Once limited to Japan, Ikebana is now a category in many international flower shows. It aims to bring nature and humanity together through an intriguing form of flower arrangement that is thoroughly unique.
Have you ever tried to describe the word “Zen?” Think about it; is it a noun, a verb or an adjective? Is it an attitude, a discipline, or a trend? When you think about how to “add” Zen to your home, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Hint: if you’re trying to come up with the right answer, there isn’t one. Zen is both subjective and objective simultaneously. When applied to home décor it is one of the hardest styles to define, particularly among Americans who have a hard time grasping its simplicity.
Perhaps the Japanese have a natural affinity toward innovative ergonomics, but it’s evident that they value the use of space in design. Whether it’s the interior of a Japanese automobile or the layout of a meditative space, it is clear that the Japanese aesthetic is a mastery of both function and form. Still, designers from around the world are often awed by the utter simplicity of Japanese style furniture, the placement of which seems to let a room “breathe” more freely.
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There is much disagreement among home decorators about whether floor coverings should be part of a room’s design. Many designers subscribe to the belief that patterned rugs are distracting and they draw the eye away from the more dimensional elements of a room’s décor. Conversely, modern designers tend to enjoy using colors and patterns in carpeting to dictate a room’s overall palette. Looking at some of the rooms displayed in Architectural Digest or Metropolitan Home, it would seem that both arguments are equally supported by award-winning designs. Like many other concepts in home décor, the choice of a traditional rug over an organic surface comes down to personal taste.
Area rugs really dress up a room
People who love a specific color theme in a room will tend to use area rugs as an anchor, so to speak, but the rug is not always what dictates the colors. Oftentimes, designers who enter a home to do a “staging” before an open house will recommend the use of a patterned area rug to give a room that “designers’ touch.” This works best when the homeowner has already chosen certain colors for walls and window treatments, such as earth tones, but has placed everything on a bare hardwood floor. In a case like this, the designer would simply determine which 5 or 6 colors dominate the space and make some notes on the overall décor of the room (traditional, modern, artsy, etc.) Then it’s a simple matter of matching this up to the right rug. It is amazing how something as simple as this can reinvigorate a tired-looking living area.
Color blocks or free-form patterns?
Surprisingly, even most designers cannot answer this question with any degree of accuracy. The choice of colors is a whole lot easier than the selection of a pattern. Fortunately, many carpet designers, such as Surya, offer a dazzling selection of both styles. With all of these patterns now available online for anyone to see, the right carpet is often just a click away. Most rug manufacturers make their most popular designs available in multiple sizes, but be sure to measure your space ahead of time so you know what size you need.
Other ways to pull a room together
If your goal is to create more of a “Zen” look to your living space, then a traditional hand-tufted rug might not be the right choice. Rugs made from bamboo or organic natural fibers are often a better choice, as are tatami mats. However, this doesn’t mean you cannot pull the colors of your room together in another way. Many Asian designers and homeowners choose large calligraphy prints or Japanese Sumi ink paintings as an “anchor” for the space. Others prefer wall tapestries or Noren curtain designs that incorporate the colors of the room. Large, centrally located Buddha statues and indoor fountains are another way to facilitate energy flow and draw the eye inward. Inspiration for your home design might also be found in the ancient art of Feng Shui.
Beautiful Surya rugs now on sale at Chopa
Surya, one of the leaders in home decor, offers the latest styles and designs in contemporary rugs and now Chopa Zen Home is offering them at very attractive discount prices. One of the more popular designs is the Oasis rug, pictured here, with its alluring contemporary design. Within the fibers of this 100% high pile wool rug are the richest shades espresso, peanut butter, olive, charcoal, raw umber, slate gray and safari tan. For homeowners who appreciate bold spice colors, neutral tones, natural woods and an earthy palette, the Oasis Rug will fit right in.
Other popular patterns now on sale at Chopa Zen Home include the botanically inspired Cosmopolitan Rug featuring soft shades of bronze, barley and lima bean; and the bold, geometric Basilica Rug featuring spicy shades of praline, auburn, cumin, raisin and cinnamon. As a special purchase, Chopa bought the remaining available rugs at close-out pricing and is passing the savings along to you at more than 50% off.
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Like many retailers selling kapok and buckwheat hull cushions, I had a hard time explaining the differences between these two natural fillings. This has been particularly true for online stores, whose customers are unable to feel the weight and texture of either material. Rather than taking a wild guess or choosing the one that sounds like it will work, I recommend learning about each of them in this series of articles. The first article, Kapok Pillows and Zafu Cushions, will give you the download on kapok and this one will fill you in about buckwheat hull pillows.
Before you read on, remember that the choice of one meditation cushion over another is a matter of personal taste. It usually comes down to the one that gives you the level of support you need to remain in the same position for long periods of time. That being said, I hope these articles will help you make an informed decision.
Part One: Buckwheat Hull
In case you’ve never heard of buckwheat hull, you’re not alone. This popular grain is readily available and not quite as rare as the Asian kapok tree. While it’s not nearly as soft as the downy kapok, people love the way buckwheat hull pillows conform to the contours of the body. Anyone who has been practicing meditation for a long time will recognize the value of this type of lumbar support, but this is by no means a “fluffy pillow.” The buckwheat hull zafu cushion is ergonomic and helps maintain healthy posture while meditating in the cross legged position. Covered with a 100% cotton twill fabric, the buckwheat hull filling makes it conform to the body’s shape more readily than kapok.
What is a buckwheat hull?
Buckwheat hulls are the parts of the plant that cover the seed or kernels. They have been used in ancient cultures, such as China, for hundreds of years but have only become more popular in the West in the past few decades.
Is a buckwheat hull pillow only for meditation?
Because of their ability to conform to the shape of the head and neck, buckwheat pillows often are recommended by medical professionals and doctors of chiropractic medicine. They are known to provide relief to those who suffer from migraines, snoring and neck pain. Because it is so similar to sitting on a mound of beach sand, buckwheat hulls give users a “grounded” feeling during meditation.
In addition to their use in zafu meditation pillows, buckwheat hulls are used for keyboard rests to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, eye pillows, and those cylindrical pillows that support the back while sitting at a desk. They even can be purchased with natural herbs added to the buckwheat hulls for a calming or energizing aromatherapy session.
What makes buckwheat hulls “sustainable?”
The material used for buckwheat hull pillows is actually the outer shell of buckwheat grain. Because it is too hard to be eaten by animals or humans, the hull would normally be discarded. By using it to fill cushions, nothing in the environment is disturbed.
1. Buckwheat Hull cushions are adjustable. Each of them has a zippered opening which can be used to fill the cushions. This opening allows for the removal or
addition of buckwheat hulls to adjust the height and comfort.
2. Buckwheat hull cushions do not flatten or require fluffing up.
3. Buckwheat hulls are more like a natural sand surface because they conform to the shape of the body and provide a grounded feel.
1. If you prefer the feeling of a soft fluffy pillow, buckwheat hull cushions might not be the best choice. Some customers find them to be a bit hard, which
can be a firm surface if you don’t have your own “natural cushioning.”
2. Buckwheat Hull cushions weigh about twice as much as kapok cushions.
3. The Buckwheat Hulls make a bit of a scrunching sound when you move around on them.
4. After a while, the hulls can break down, but they can easily be replaced by adding more through the zippered opening.
Buckwheat Hull cushions have become increasingly popular for meditation, accounting for the majority of zafu cushions sold today. People who choose kapok
instead are usually looking for a more traditional pillow that is comfortable to the touch.
It is best if you can test a few cushions locally before making a purchase, but we stand by our return and exchange policy. We want you to have the best cushion
for your needs.
Sale pricing expires February 28th, 2013. Enter Feb10 in the coupon box at check-out to receive 10% off. Not valid with other coupons or on previous sales.
It may seem a little far-fetched, but the sound of certain gongs and chimes can cause a physiological response in many people. Just as noted author William Congreve once said, “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast;” the same could be said about the sound of a gong.