Japanese designs tend toward a paring down to essentials, an attempt to capture the basic form and characteristics of a specific subject.

The free flowing images used to decorate Japanese artefacts are often wonderfully simple and effective communicators of meaning.

These images are usually not meant to be realistic, and may not even be in lifelike colours: for example, flowers designs may be reduced to bare essentials.

Japanese painting style allowed for greater spontaneity and individuality and tended to be both more abstract and more naturalistic than Chinese painting.


 Generally speaking we see muted and neutral colours but with accents of red, black, occasionally yellow (this is more Chinese) and the cool green of sushi. 




It was not until the mid-19th century when trade opened up between the West and Japan that Japanese designs became the sensation in Europe and the United States.

They were very influential in the development of both fine arts and decorative arts in Europe and America throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This is referred to as JAPONISM.

And their influence has continued to today.  For example:       

  • From the 1860s, Japanese wood-block prints, became a source of inspiration for many European Impressionist painters in France and elsewhere, and eventually for Art Nouveau and Cubism              
  • Van Gogh copied the techniques and textures of Japanese woodcuts.  (above)                            
  • The Arts and Crafts movement copied the pared-down quality of Japanese art.
  • In the 1920s and later, designers and architects like Eileen Gray, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright were influenced by the Japanese mastery of proportion, minimalism and the disciplined use of materials.

  • In the 1890's, Western artists, like Toulouse-Lautrec, (right) were especially affected by the Japanese...
  1. lack of perspective and shadow,
  2. the flat areas of strong color
  3. and the compositional freedom gained by   placing the subject off-centre, mostly with a low diagonal axis to the background.
  • One hundred years later, Japanese style was the defining influence on 1990’s minimalism




This design is a perfect example of Japanese minimalist paring down to the essentials...

two branches of stylized Japanese blossoms asymmetrically arranged on a neutral background.



 Also in the background you see random soft gold, textured striations possibly depicting vertical rays of sunlight.

All the colours are muted in traditional Japanese fashion (white, light taupe, soft gold), accented by small black stems and leaves.  

This ‘Japanese Blossoms’ tapestry has been framed like an artist’s canvas to create a striking tableau of needlepoint art.


Creative stitches for a creative project!


To give this design individuality and your own ‘creative stamp’, your ZIVA Kit will include several suggestions of the types of stitches you could use (with instructions) for the blossoms and the background texture.



NOTE: You can be more creative and experimental with needlepoint art, as your final tapestry will be on your wall and not on a seat cover for instance, where, due to wear and tear, you have to be more practical. 


A few finishing touches before it's sent out!

A striking design at 18" (45.5 cm) wide at left.... and also available at 24" (61 cm) wide.

Types of threads?


In keeping with Japanese tradition, this design would be dazzling in silk or silk and wool blend threads.

For one idea, you could stitch most of the tapestry in silk and wool blend threads to give stability and weight, with the white blossoms and branches in a silk thread in the long stitch and satin stitch.


The silk would provide richness, lustre and depth for a stunning result!                                                             


  How would you stitch it? Be creative!



Again, we adapted this wall art design from rare colour Japanese woodblock images from the 1930s.  

As with our matching cushion design “Classic Chrysanthemums”  , we have created an ageless Japanese minimalist design, called ‘Timeless Chrysanthemums’ by paring down both pattern and colour!

 These two similar chrysanthemum motifs have been placed asymmetrically on a wall art needlepoint panel in a disciplined palette of neutral black and white flowers, black stems and leaves…. and set off by a soft cherry blossom’ colour for the background. 

If you want to change this colour palette, you could select a different background colour to suit the colours in your décor. Uniquely yours!      



This motif is striking on the dark blue-grey wall of this contemporary bedroom!

We have taken the matching ‘White Petals’ cushion motif  and stretched it!

By doing this, we have developed a delicate and rhythmic cascade of white chrysanthemum flowers.

With its disciplined palette of just off-white, greys and taupes the focus of the design is completely directed to its flowing composition.


The chrysanthemum flower, introduced into Japan in the 8th century, became a common design for Japanese textiles.


A version of the chrysanthemum pattern was adopted by the emperor in the 14th century for the family's exclusive use as the imperial crest. It has been in continual use over the centuries, still displayed today by the Japanese Imperial family.




In this particular design 'Chrysanthemum Silhouettes', the white chrysanthemums and their leaves are depicted in a soft cascading silhouette. They are enhanced by the free flowing background colours of red, soft grey and teal green for a very traditional and eloquent affect. 

Again, the use of silk threads with this design would be ideal.

Use your imagination!


Go back to the Needlepoint Art page to see the dynamic modernist art designs.

From these exquisite Japanese designs, go back to the Home page

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