Indoor gardens inspired by zen philosophy are in

Last Updated : 06 April 2024, 00:29 IST
Last Updated : 06 April 2024, 00:29 IST

Follow Us :


People are trying to adopt holistic wellness in all walks of their lives. Architects are seeing an increase in demand for zen garden-inspired spaces at homes. These are designed to beat stress, evoke tranquillity and promote contemplation. 

Zen gardens have their root in ancient traditions of Japan and China. They aim to recreate the beauty and balance in nature in a minimalist manner. They use rocks, gravel, sand, moss and clipped shrubs rather than big, ornamental trees.

Taking a cue from these gardens, architects are offering serene spaces in contemporary design. They share insights about this growing trend.

Green inside out

Shalini Chandrashekar, principal architect at Bengaluru-based Taliesyn-Design and Architecture, talks about her current project in Kerala — a yoga deck inspired by zen philosophy. It is located above the dining room. The railing of the deck doubles up as a space to hold planters for creepers. “When one is meditating or sitting on the deck, the railing with its creepers, falling like a curtain, is at eye level. When one stands up to do yoga, one can view the mangroves outside. This design idea connects greenery inside and outside,” she explains. 

Elements like austerity, subtlety, and asymmetry are key to zen philosophy. In Ballari, she is designing the interiors of an office keeping these in mind. “We’re creating an oasis with a koi pond at the centre. The pond not only looks beautiful but also cools the air — a smart solution for the hot region. The sound of flowing water adds to the relaxation. We’ve used ficus and water lilies in the pond for sustainability purposes. These grow well in the Indian climate,” she says. 

Right placement

George E Ramapuram, MD and principal architect at Earthitects, Bengaluru, says zen-inspired gardens can be strategically placed in any room. In his recent project at Wayanad, he blended rocks and trees into the layout of the living room. 

In another residential project in Wayanad, he transformed an open air bathroom  into a tranquil retreat. Talking of the highlights of the design, he shares, “Tree branches double up as chic lighting fixtures and towel racks, and a strategically placed mirror reflects the beauty of the surroundings.” 

Ramapuram’s go-to elements for setting up a zen-style garden include “stone walls for earthiness, lush foliage for serenity, open courtyards for light and air, eucalyptus poles for simplicity, mirrors for reflection, and stepping stones for mindfulness”. Stick to clean lines, neutral colours, and uncluttered spaces to achieve tranquillity and orderliness. Embrace minimalist decor and furnishings while prioritising quality over quantity, he advises. 

Avoid sharp corners and opt for flowing, curved designs instead, recommends Nayan Shah, principal architect and founder of Thane-based Palindrome Spaces. He says access to sunlight and wind is key when creating tranquil spaces. They also highlight textures on walls featuring stonework or brickwork. Furthermore, the sunlight filtering through plants can create dappled shadows on stone pathways.

Safer lighting 

Natasha N Kochhar, principal designer at LTDF, New Delhi, says lighting is crucial for both the ambience and the plant health. In an ongoing home project in Delhi, she has opted for LED lighting for “indirect and safer illumination when compared to traditional options.” The garden is nestled in the lobby and incorporates technology for lighting and irrigation. “We’ve achieved a balance with gravel paths, water features (like fountains and artificial waterfalls) and fire pits. We have curated a mix of low-lying plants and decorative trees that have been artistically pruned or clipped, says Natasha.

For an office space in Mumbai, Shah leveraged technology to bring in the vibe of a gurukul, complete with an artificial sky installation. He believes that blending technology with heritage is the future of such tranquil spaces. 

Central focus

 In Thrissur in Kerala, Shalini’s team turned a terrace into a trendy zen-inspired lounge. A majestic temple tree was chosen as the centrepiece, and an antique boat sourced from Fort Kochi in the state was added for a quirky touch.

To build an indoor garden-cum-discussion room in Pandhurna, Madhya Pradesh, Nayan’s team drew inspiration from origami. A red jade stone was chosen as the centrepiece.

Many ancient cultures including the Chinese, Japanese, and Burmese associate the red jade with healing and positive vibes.

White Rajasthan Makana stone added an Indian touch to the space. Inspired by the subtleties of Japanese art, Nayan introduced waves into the design to “symbolise the infinite flow of the ocean”.

“We added glass panels on all sides to symbolise openness, crucial for fostering forward-thinking environments,” he adds.

Calming colours

Komal Bhargava is the founder of Su-Kham, a Kolkata-based sustainable furniture and décor design firm. She had recently created a zen-themed spa room for a home in the city. She opted for furnishings in different shades of blue as the colour is associated with peace and nature.

She added blue planters and towels to maintain the zen feel. Paintings with symbols like the ‘Tree of Life’ and bonsai trees and palms were other features. 

Consider preferences

From incorporating bars to music systems, architects customise a zen space as per an individual’s preference.

For a home in Delhi, Natasha created a serene escape with trees, cosy nooks, and water features. “The house owner said he found peace amid nature and by water bodies,” she adds. 

Shalini says for some, it’s about offering guests the view of a serene garden upon entry, while for others, it’s about creating a personal escape for meditation or yoga. It’s crucial to consider such perspectives, she emphasises. 

Wallet factor

Around Rs 5,000 per sq ft. Costing varies on your choice of design and materials picked.

Published 06 April 2024, 00:29 IST

Deccan Herald is on WhatsApp Channels | Join now for Breaking News & Editor's Picks

Follow us on :

Follow Us