Pondering The Clean Lines in Your Home? You Have the Japanese (and 19th-Century Germans) To Thank

 
  Painting from The Tale of Genji (c. 1021) and a 19th Century German living room in the Biedermeier style.  

Painting from The Tale of Genji (c. 1021) and a 19th Century German living room in the Biedermeier style.  

 
 

Vogue editor Diana Vreeland had something of an obsession with Japanese culture. As she put it, “God was fair to the Japanese. He gave them no oil, no diamonds, but he gave them style.”  Indeed, their fondness for clean and harmonious lines dates all the way back to the early 14th century when the original tatami rooms came into style. It only took Europe 500 years to catch on. Well, not exactly ...

  Not much has changed by way of Japanese interiors since the 14th-century: The lovely Masuya Yushinan Hotel carries on the tradition.  

Not much has changed by way of Japanese interiors since the 14th-century: The lovely Masuya Yushinan Hotel carries on the tradition.  

  Biedermeier furniture on 1st Dibs

Biedermeier furniture on 1st Dibs

There was at least one movement in the early 19th century that valued form over ornament. Called Biedermeier, the furniture style was popular in Germany from 1818 - 1848. A burgeoning middle class started decorating their new and improved homes with a new style that emphasized clean lines and minimal ornamentation. The philosophy was in line with their sensible, utilitarian values, but the results were quite beautiful. To the modern eye, they look traditional, but it really was a radical departure from the incredibly ornate stylings of the time. 

Biedermeier furniture