Shoji screen design ideas

Shoji screen is a unique feature of Japanese architecture for which walls played substantially reduced role compared to other regions. As pillars and beams (usually exposed as part of aesthetic design) bore load, shoji screen was used as really thin, removable and flexible walls to connect the rooms with the outside environment, or as windows placed in different areas in different sizes and design for different purposes.  

Traditional shoji

Shoji screen emerged as part of the shoin-zukuri design that cemented its style during 14-16th century. The Katsura Rikyu Imperial Villa, built in the 17th century, is a prime example of how shoji was used in traditional buildings.

Shoji is still used in traditional houses/buildings today, although it’s a lot less popular for a variety of reasons.

Shoji windows

Because of its lightness and flexibility, shoji is often used as design accent. In some cases, you can see the Chinese influence. Bamboo is also commonly used in order to add unique aesthetic tones, when the material strength is not required.  

Shoji interacts with sunlight

Even though shoji is not opaque, it is translucent enough to vaguely see and feel things outside. So it’s important to situate shoji having outside environment in mind. Traditional wabi-sabi connoisseurs, notably Tea Masters of traditional Japanese tea ceremony (sado), preferred to have shoji windows facing North so that they could enjoy subtle, subdued light that interacted with dimness inside the room. 

Shoji as part of a makeshift sun porch 

If you have shoji in your house, you open/close it very often in order to take advantage of the outside environment. When it’s nice out, you wide-open it to make a temporary sun room.