Wabi-Sabi Design 侘寂

A Japanese principle inspired by the imperfections of life and finding beauty in repair. Comforting spaces have a low-maintenance, warmth that sees a return to worn materials and aged surfaces. Embrace the use of organic materials, pieces that are created with imperfections and natural authenticity. 

We live in a world that constantly strives for perfection in all aspects of life: perfect home, perfect family, perfect job. This constant hunger for faultlessness has seen stress levels rise and formed a nation that is always looking for more. However, many believe that if we all just paid a little more attention to the ancient Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi. We could free ourselves of the need for a picture-perfect life, sit back, and enjoy our lives as they really are – imperfect. 

Maybe you are constantly purchasing new items, but your space just never quite feels complete. Or maybe you have previously lived a minimalist lifestyle, but now you desire a cozy living room. Whatever your story is, embracing a wabi-sabi inspired way of life could make your surroundings feel a little more lived in.

So, what is the meaning of wabi-sabi? Established in Zen Buddhism, wabi-sabi is an age-old Japanese concept focused on accepting and embracing the imperfections that surround us. It is about acknowledging the flaws and impermanence of life. It’s about appreciating the beauty of the natural world and all that comes with it. Wabi-sabi is present in many aspects of our lives, from our relationships with ourselves and with others to the joy of freshly prepared food and the love of family heirlooms – be it an item of clothing or rustic piece of furniture.

Wabi-Sabi in Interior Design …

When it comes to the home, wabi-sabi cannot be bought in material possessions. Wabi-sabi can be found in the quirky details of old dinnerware handmade furnishings that are unique to your home and natural materials such as wood and stone. With such emphasis put on updating our homes with brand new possessions, new trends and styles, we can often feel pressured to keep our homes in pristine condition. However, by channeling wabi-sabi and embracing imperfection throughout our interiors, we can create harmonious, lived-in environments that are both welcoming and homely. We cannot escape the fact that every so often we simply need to purchase new things, however, if you buy these new items with wabi-sabi in mind, you will find yourself investing in sustainable materials and unique pieces that stand the test of time.

While wabi-sabi is an aesthetic concept, we must think of it as a feeling – one where you feel calm and grounded on one hand, but also experiencing that physical, intellectual and emotional sensation that comes from being surrounded by beauty. This is associated with rituals of appreciation: of moments and the sensuality of materials and form and their ever-changing ephemeral nature.

It also means embracing irregularity and staying away from ‘matchy-matchyness’ (un wabi-sabi = matching lamps). It means looking lived-in, not perfect and pure: the design of home, space or any habitat you create is not complete until it is being used as a place to hold and live life.