Bonsai for Interior Decoration

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Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Rob Kempinski on Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:10 am

Many bonsaists are aware of the Japanese use of a tokonoma to display bonsai inside a Japanese home. It can be an attractive and fun way to display a bonsai. Unfortunately the vast majority of western homes do not have an interior tokonoma.

For the past few months, I have taken a western approach to displaying bonsai inside my house.

Our kitchen has a counter that looks out over the eating area and to the family room. I have been placing bonsai on the counter just above the sink, which happens to be the middle of counter. In our home, the kitchen is the center of family activity and the tree placed there can be viewed by anyone using the kitchen, or eating food at the eat-in area or in the family room. When we have guests, this prominent spot for the bonsai draws much inspection and lots of comments. (My shohin Firethorn, Pyracantha, was especially well liked by holiday guests. The red berries are great around Christmas.) This is a cell phone shot of an Dwarf Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria schillings nana) shohin on the counter.



Our home also has the US version of a tokonoma, an art niche. We designed the house with a couple of niches to contain paintings and sculpture but a shohin bonsai fits in there nicely. The overhead light is a nice touch. This is Green Island Ficus (Ficus microcarpa G.I.) Pot a one I purchased in Yixing China last year. Very smooth clay body - I was told it is from the original dug clay and has not been repugged.

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Ravi Kiran on Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:12 am

Hi Rob,

A very nice modern day adaptation to displaying bonsai at home. I understand that it is not always possible to have a tokonoma kind of an alcove at home especially outside of Japan. I am sure your guests must be as pleased with the Bonsai as you are Smile

I too have done something similar at home. The pic below shows the same. The table was purchased with the sole intent of Bonsai display. The scroll behind was gifted to me by a good friend who works in China. The Suiseki was collected by me and the tiny house figurine.... hopefully should complete the picture....



Ravi

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Guest on Wed Jan 19, 2011 7:40 am

Very nice Rob and Ravi. Good to see bonsai used in the house, enjoyed and used on a more daily praxis.

Most of us are not able to fit in a traditional Tokonoma in our house. Therefore the western way of appreciating our bonsai in daily life may differ from the traditional Japanese house.
When it is about displaying bonsai at exhibitions, I am always speaking for the original approach of displaying bonsai, because I find it aesthetically pleasing and in the spirit of bonsai. And because there it is possible to arrange it the right way.

In our homes, that are very different from the Japanese style, it is another story. It is very pleasing to see how you can use your bonsai and enjoy them on a more daily basis. I only have a few older photos available below, but I sometimes arrange a small display with tables, bonsai and accents in our dinning area, or in the living room. Always when guests arrive.

There is a Japanese word for this type of display. A Yoma-Kazari can be a table or shelf placed up against a wall, and has a more Western look. Like a Tokonoma, it is essential to have a light background in order to display items properly.

In my garden I have a smaller garage used for bonsai, and there I have built a Tokonoma. It can be seen from the garden too. I only have a two year old photo, so many things have improved later on. Moved to this house two years ago. One of the first things I did, was building the Tokonoma. (New pictures another time).

A few years ago the probably largest bonsai collector of Japan, Daizo Iwasaki, paid a visit and he especially noticed how we used and enjoyed our bonsai much more on a daily basis than the Japanese. So however we do it, its just important to please our selves and guests of the house with our bonsai.

(Below a few older photos from my former house).


Living room in my old house - 2005.


Berberis, Shohin at the kitchen table at breakfast. No fuss, just brought in for the breakfast. 2010.


- and of course with the right coffee cup Very Happy


The Tokonoma - 2009.

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Guest on Wed Jan 19, 2011 8:08 am

Hi Rob

I also love to display my bonsai in our house when we have guests, I have two nice deep windows.
It sounds to me, like you display every day.....How long do you dare to have each tree kept this way?
Is it only indor trees?. Or...

Kind regards Yvonne

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Rob Kempinski on Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:28 pm

Yvonne Graubaek wrote:Hi Rob

I also love to display my bonsai in our house when we have guests, I have two nice deep windows.
It sounds to me, like you display every day.....How long do you dare to have each tree kept this way?
Is it only indor trees?. Or...

Kind regards Yvonne

Hi Yvonne,
I rotate the trees after a day or two. At some point I display all my trees indoors, temperate and tropical. (The Ilex is temperate tree). I have enough to go almost half a year without repeating. Maybe that is a new goal, a years supply! What a Face

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  JimLewis on Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:19 pm

No tokonoma here either, but we display a number of Ukiyoe (woodblock prints) on th walls of our living room. When we have company, we often accent these with bonsai.






One entire wall is taken up with a painting done for us by a friend. This also is sometimes a backdrop for a larger tree:


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Nice displays all

Post  tuyhoabob on Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:23 pm

I was loaning mame and a little larger out to a teacher friend here who entertained a lot. These were small serissa and jasmine. I wound up having four of them just sitting around to loan because it got pretty popular...made colorful instant centerpieces.

I have the welcome tree out front and now that we have the cafe' open I've started to rotate a few into the dining area. I'll get a few pics and post them. The bad news is that you really have to watch the kids, turn your back and they are rearranging soil, stones and everything, ha ha. Kids will be kids.

Bob

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Guest on Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:35 pm

Hi Rob
It could be a goal for me too...hmm, many trees, I am not sure after all.

Hi Jimlewis
The painting with the bright collours is very nice....it looks like the tree is standing in the street. Playfull...

Kind regards Yvonne

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Rob Kempinski on Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:43 pm

tuyhoabob wrote:I was loaning mame and a little larger out to a teacher friend here who entertained a lot. These were small serissa and jasmine. I wound up having four of them just sitting around to loan because it got pretty popular...made colorful instant centerpieces.

I have the welcome tree out front and now that we have the cafe' open I've started to rotate a few into the dining area. I'll get a few pics and post them. The bad news is that you really have to watch the kids, turn your back and they are rearranging soil, stones and everything, ha ha. Kids will be kids.

Bob
Is that a model rocket I detect in the branches of your bonsai avatar.
Cool hobby if so.
I was never into the models, just the real ones bounce

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  xuan le on Wed Jan 19, 2011 7:43 pm

I diplay my bonsai in 2 places one in the kitchen and one in the living room. The one in the living room I have a small table withe the height right at the level of the bay window base so the display can be seen in the room and from outside as well specially with the Satsuki in bloom in Spring






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Bonsai for interior decoration

Post  sunip on Wed Jan 19, 2011 8:41 pm

Hy Xuan Le,

The picture in the middle is speaking of a long story.
Thanks to you, and your two deer to you in the picture, for this lovely atmosfere.

Regards, Sunip Wink

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Jerry Meislik on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:35 pm

Nice to see people proud of their trees and displaying them in their own homes using local themes and accents.
Keep up the great work.
Jerry

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displays

Post  tuyhoabob on Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:12 pm

Rob, small ones compared to NASA but I was Tripoli certified level 2, some launches of mine equaled a paycheck.
The logo design was an inside joke with the chapter, at least once a year I'd hang one so bad we had to cut a tree down to recover it.
Little trees, big rockets.

Nice to see Jerry M chime in here...only guy we know that built his house around his trees!!

Bob

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Jerry Meislik on Thu Jan 20, 2011 12:05 am

Bob,
You are right the house is an attachment to the plant room!!!!
Jerry

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Jaco Kriek on Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:51 am

Hi Morten

I am very ignorant regarding tokonoma (and many other things). Is it standard to be so low, that you have to bend down to view the tree. Or is the focus more on the entire arrangement?

Jaco

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Guest on Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:25 am

Often bonsai exhibited at Tokonomas are placed so you have to bend slightly to observe. or they are placed so you can view them from a sitting position in a guest house e.g.
There are a variety of this, more or less extreme, but normally a slight bend is the case. This said, it is the overall impression that is important, because each element (bonsai, scroll, accents i.e.) interacts and expresses a feeling and history together.

Regards
Morten

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Rob Kempinski on Thu Jan 20, 2011 12:59 pm

Regarding the low tokonoma, the traditional Japanese home has low furniture that usually requires squatting on small cushion on a tatami mat so that would lower the viewer's eye to the appropriate level for viewing. So to take in a tokoname one should be kneeling on the tatami mat. Bending over would be pretty uncomfortable.




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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  JimLewis on Thu Jan 20, 2011 2:30 pm

Jaco Kriek wrote:Hi Morten

I am very ignorant regarding tokonoma (and many other things). Is it standard to be so low, that you have to bend down to view the tree. Or is the focus more on the entire arrangement?

Jaco

Tokonoma are built for the Japanese house with tatami (woven reed) floors, where you sit on he floor to eat, visit and enjoy the tokonoma display.


_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Rob Kempinski on Thu Jan 20, 2011 2:45 pm

JimLewis wrote:
Jaco Kriek wrote:Hi Morten

I am very ignorant regarding tokonoma (and many other things). Is it standard to be so low, that you have to bend down to view the tree. Or is the focus more on the entire arrangement?

Jaco

Tokonoma are built for the Japanese house with tatami (woven reed) floors, where you sit on he floor to eat, visit and enjoy the tokonoma display.


That's a good photo Jim and it helps explain my point that Western display does not need a tokonoma nor does it necessarily need a three point display with scroll and stone. Western home design and decoration is fundamentally different than a traditional Japanese home and displaying bonsai in a western home should be done so as to be sensible and comfortable.

Morten's tokonoma in his garage is cool, but I wouldn't want to be sitting on my garage floor to enjoy a bonsai. (First off my garage is not climate controlled and used for cars and my shop). I'd rather have bonsai placed in my home such that I interact with it while using the other space in my home.

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Guest on Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:05 pm

Morten's tokonoma in his garage is cool, but I wouldn't want to be sitting on my garage floor to enjoy a bonsai. (First off my garage is not climate controlled and used for cars and my shop). I'd rather have bonsai placed in my home such that I interact with it while using the other space in my home.

Thanks. But we are not sitting on the floor :-)
Not shown is a bench that fits the height of the Tokonoma, were you can relax and view the Tokonoma. later on a wooden floor will be established.
Below other ways of displaying bonsai.

Regards
Morten

All pictures from the house of Daizo Iwasaki, Japan.








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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Ravi Kiran on Fri Jan 21, 2011 3:50 am

Thanks Morten for sharing the Tokonoma perspective... Very beautiful pictures indeed....

Ravi

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  shimsuki on Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:01 am

Very interesting post!

I my parents old house in florida they had an American art nook, would have worked great for bonsai display.

Nice pictures everyone!


Andrew

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Jaco Kriek on Fri Jan 21, 2011 12:46 pm

Thank you for the informative answers everyone. Helps me lots. Really nice pictures.

Regards

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Rob Kempinski on Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:07 pm

[quote="morten albek"]


Regards
Morten

All pictures from the house of Daizo Iwasaki, Japan.





Nice photos Morten. Note Mr. Iwasaki lives in Japan and has a very traditional Japanese style building.

I always wondered if the building in his garden is his actual residence or garden home?

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

Post  Guest on Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:19 pm

Hi Rob

The building where these photos are taken, is a building connected to the private residence of Iwasaki. This part of the buildings is for business and meeting purposes. But both the private home and this house is located in his famous garden, and the buildings are close together.

Best regards
Morten

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Re: Bonsai for Interior Decoration

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