4 min readAlthough it may sound like a delicious item on the menu at a Japanese restaurant, wabi-sabi is the latest chic concept to take the interior design world by storm.
Wabi-sabi is a Japanese lifestyle philosophy that celebrates imperfection, impermanence, simplicity, craftsmanship and modest surroundings.
Roughly translated ‘Wabi’ means simplicity and ‘Sabi’ is the beauty of age and wear.
First appearing in Japan in the 12th century, wabi-sabi was made famous more recently by designers Tatsuro Miki and Axel Vervoordt.
Image: Design Father
Finally, a home décor trend we can buy into without actually having to hit the shops.
Unlike many other popular interior styles, wabi-sabi doesn’t support consumerism. It isn’t about furnishing your home with new ‘cookie-cutter’ mass produced items to create a particular ‘look’, with specific pieces of furniture and a strict colour palette.
Wabi-sabi is all about reassessing your space and showcasing and appreciating what is already in it, rather than getting new items.
Cracks, chips, scratches, and general wear and tear are not things to be covered up, fixed or replaced according to this philosophy, they are admired and put proudly on show to symbolise the passing of time.
So, hold off on throwing away that comfy worn leather armchair or repainting that peeling kitchen wall in 2018.
Perhaps as you look around your home you’ll recognise one or two elements of wabi-sabi already, like a tarnished mirror, a vase of flowers beginning to wilt or a worn floorboard or two. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have some ceramic wabi-sabi gems tucked away in the back of the cupboard just aching to be admired.
Here are five more ways you can nurture a feeling of wabi-sabi in your home.
1. Handmade anything.
Whether it’s a handmade ceramic vase collection, a hand knitted throw rug or a handcrafted recycled timber bench, you can’t go wrong with a beautifully crafted bespoke piece that was made to last. Key to getting an authentic sense of wabi-sabi is to avoid anything perfectly formed, ‘overdone’ or mass produced. So, you can kiss that IKEA catalogue goodbye and head to a local car boot market or garage sale to see what one of a kind homeware finds you can score.
Image: Kin Wallace Ceramics
2. Perfectly imperfect.
Pieces made from materials in their most raw and natural state goes hand in hand with celebrating the beauty of imperfection. Think exposed brick, rustic timber furniture (the more scratched the better) and, aged and distressed leather chairs. Raw timber Japanese stools are the perfect accessory for displaying small objects, books and for resting feet on.
Image: Lady Darwin Designs
3. Unmake your bed.
The good news is you can stop ironing your sheets (if you ever did!) and making your bed every day, as wabi-sabi is all about the crumpled ‘slept-in’ unmade look. Bonus points for layers of soft wrinkled worn linen sheets to help create that effortlessly undone feel.
4. Natural wonders.
Having a respect for the natural world is a pivotal aspect of wabi-sabi living. Before buying a new item see if there is any way you could upcycle a piece or material you already have to serve the same purpose. Like constructing a floaty lamp shade or pendant light from old tatty linen you would have discarded. Use calming and simple earthy neutral tones to guide your décor colour palette too!
Image: Sergey Makhno
5. Show off age.
Wabi-sabi is all about celebrating the beauty in the use and age of objects. Perhaps you could invest in a brass lamp that will age gracefully over time as it oxidizes and changes colour. If you break or chip some pottery or crockery, instead of chucking it in the bin glue it back together as best you can to reuse or display. Wabi-sabi style champions the exhibition of the effects of accidents and the wear of objects over time.
Image: The Book of Life, ‘Kintsugi’- The centuries-old art of repairing broken pottery with gold.
We hope these examples help to inspire you to embrace a simple interior design aesthetic that celebrates imperfection and modesty.