Asian design is uncluttered -“ perfectly attuned to the quest for simplifying surroundings and lives. Yet it is as elegant as it is spare, and many of its themes, such as bamboo and the lotus blossom, are timeless. Even the monochromatic French toile was borrowed from oriental scenic designs along with the use of gilt and metallic accents -“ both popular today.

Modern designers in particular have historically shown a penchant for Asian design. Its spare lines and rich materials lend themselves to contemporary furnishings. Lacquered finishes add sleekness, while bamboo and rattan provide contrast and interest. Both are pleasing to the touch as well as the eye.

Feng shui is at the heart of oriental design. It is the ancient Chinese art of placement that allows for free flow of energy and guides our lives toward harmony. Practised in China for 4000 years, feng shui is now taken seriously, not only by interior designers, but also by builders of high-rises and residences in the western world.

The association between harmony and Asian influences now even moves beyond design into other important aspect of our lives. Acupuncture is gaining respect in the medical community and people are consuming record amounts of green tea. Several wallpaper and border collections celebrate Asian design and illustrate how perfectly this influence meets today’s demand for harmony at home. Like an exotic spice, oriental design can be used generously or in small doses, either to make a unique statement or merely enhance the eclectic flavour of any room or home.

Just one or two Asian accessories can give your home an Asian flair, says designer Stephen Bloch.

He says many striking Asian artefacts can lend their beauty to home decor. Gentlemen’s shoe boxes, antique coal carriers, pigskin paper carriers, red lacquer bride’s tubs and low grain or rice baskets can be re-adapted and used as visually pleasing benches, light fittings and tables.

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