We’re all about the beauty in imperfection. It’s right there on our homepage. So, when we heard about the “new” design trend about to take the world by storm, we were pleased but not so surprised. After all, we have loved it for years.
We’re talking about the Japanese design trend wabi-sabi. Unlike a lot of other design trends that have come and gone over the years, wabi-sabi shouldn’t take itself too seriously, after all, it should be the opposite of pretentious. For those that enjoy beauty but blanche at the idea of a sanitised, minimalist world, wabi-sabi is the perfect fit. Recognising that beauty isn’t perfect and that homes are meant to be lived in and not just looked at, wabi-sabi is about the practical, the natural and the beautiful.
Of course, technically, wabi-sabi needs time to create patina and character but you can start by considering how things are made and where they come from. How you use them and the life that you give these items will then naturally encourage true wabi-sabi.
Wabi-sabi celebrates Nature in all its variety and imperfections. The natural world is undeniably imperfect yet unquestionably beautiful. Organic materials like wood and ceramics created with traditional techniques celebrate nature’s flaws and lend some of Mother Nature’s beauty to your décor.
Natural materials are a great start, but the craft is where humanity and variation creep in as compared to factory made pieces. Each Maker has their own dialogue with nature: from the uneven grain of the wood to the fingerprints of the maker's hands on the pottery, homeware that is handcrafted can be more unique, more flawed, but also more beautiful.
The world isn’t naturally made up of symmetrical lines or right angles. True beauty lies in the uneven, the unbalanced and the off-kilter - look for objects that embrace and accept their natural form. These objects are often understated, but their unusual and unique shapes will always stand out once you know what you are looking for.
As we said above, it is only through use that true wabi-sabi can occur. Don’t try and keep up with the neighbours or be on top of every ephemeral trend – work out what you need and will use. Of course, if you simply want decorative bowls or vases then that’s fine, but don’t limit yourself to the decorative. Look for products that are practical and beautiful, whose use will bring a smile to your face, from lacquer cutlery to centre-piece ceramics or hand-dyed textiles.
Wabi-sabi is much more than just looking good, it is about working out what will make your life good. It also means supporting traditional craftsmen, many of whom struggle for the love of their work and tradition. Utilising raw materials and time-honoured techniques is also kinder to our environment, helping to give back to the world that gives us so much beauty.