Southwestern Decor Is Really Comforting, But I Still Love Minimalist Style
Southwestern decor has a profound capability to please by holding memories and human connections by generating a specific western atmosphere. Nowhere has decoration been more striking to me than in a Chashitsu, or Japanese tearoom, where decorations are few but leave virtually nothing to be desired. I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to participate in tea ceremonies both in Japan and the USA, and the extent of décor’s importance is certainly not exclusive to any one culture, however, the Chashitsu provides exemplars of the impact that a single decoration can possess.
At some point or another, we’ve had the experience of stepping into someone’s home and being bombarded by décor of every shape and size. While this can express passionate sentiments, it is often overwhelming for visitors. In contrast, a typical Chashitsu essentially contains a seating area for guests on tatami mats, a corner where the host makes tea, and an alcove—the only location where two pieces of removable decorations are presented. The host carefully selects a large scroll of hand-drawn calligraphy, and one seasonal flower presented in a minimalistic arrangement. Yet, these two objects suffice to create a mood in an otherwise simple room. The decision to introduce a decoration is also a decision to bring new meaning into a space, and the combination of seasonal flower and handmade scroll provides a sense of human intimacy with nature that is cognizant of the present moment.
Memories and relationships are undoubtedly significant aspects of décor. It’s no surprise, then, that in many homes the memories associated with an ornament or piece of furniture play a major role in whether the host chooses to display it. Furthermore, the power to evoke similar memories in guests makes décor even more meaningful. In the Chashitsu, the calligraphy scroll serves this purpose. More often than not, the phrase on the scroll is a prompt of the past and makes the ceremony itself memorable. The phrase for my most recent tea ceremony translated to, “one time, one meeting,” meant to remind guests of the ephemerality and inimitability of a meeting, which is priceless. Certainly, we can recall particular items exhibited in our own homes that express the bonds that we share with other people.
Though the Chashitsu is a proponent of great minimalism, balance can also surely be achieved even with more décor. Nevertheless, it’s a monument to the power of two decorations, highlighting that décor matters in the sentiments that it induces. Perhaps we need only to reach out an arm’s length to understand that décor matters due to its emotional influence on us. It’s sometimes difficult for me to hold my two opposing views of interior design. One one side, I love the simplicity and minimalism, but I also find southwestern decor to be extremely warm and welcoming. I guess people are complex and there’s no reason to pick sides. But one thing I know for sure, I really love the southwestern runner rugs that my mom bought for me as a housewarming gift.