Wabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophy that has been around since the 15th century, which celebrates finding beauty in imperfection. It came about as a rebellion against the dominant trends of the time: opulence, excess, and the use of precious, unsustainable materials.
There is a soothing sense of calm that comes from living your life the Japanese wabi-sabi way - it involves grounding oneself by forming a deep connection to the earth. In interior design, wabi-sabi is seen in natural, honest and raw materials: furniture built from bare knotted timber, floors of rustic stone, bumpy plastered walls, handwoven rugs and hand-made textiles.
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This is a philosophy for calm, imperfect living: the complete antithesis of fast interiors and flash-in-the-pan interior trends. So the choices that you make as you wabi-sabi your home should be sustainable ones based on comfortable, practical living and well-made, timeless pieces that bring joy. Here's how to bring some of this mindset to your home.
With wabi-sabi, a lived-in look is valued far above ‘show-home’ chic. Think softly crumpled bed linen, crafted bamboo and rattan, carefully chosen handmade pieces like rugs and decorative woven bowls, wood carved furniture, and houseplants in woven planters.
IMPERFECT & UNFINISHED
This is a way of life that values natural imperfections and so is a deeply sustainable approach to home décor; cracked ceramics are all the more intriguing – a new work of art, in fact - once repaired. Likewise, frayed edges on rugs, raw hems on clothing and unfinished edges on woven baskets reveal the complexity of the craft and the beauty of the fibres.
The Japanese art of kintisugi treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. Image credit: Yonobi.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Whilst this interior style is different to minimalism, both share a respect for quality of things over quantity of things. Keep home clutter to a minimum by inviting only things that – to paraphrase the great William Morris – you know to be beautiful or useful. Like sisal rugs woven on the hand loom, for example, or handwoven floor baskets, woven bread baskets or large, decorative woven baskets.
Image credit: Spacestor
FREEDOM FROM CONFORMITY
Wabi-sabi is all about embracing authenticity, so choose with your heart and free yourself from the constraints of your existing home style or current fast interiors trends. Wabi-sabi style will merge beautifully with virtually any interior aesthetic, from cosy cottagecore to pared back scandi, so feel liberated to mix and match… and let things fall naturally and loosely. Remember: "perfectly imperfect"!
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STATEMENT PIECES FOR A NOURISHING SPACE
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