There have been a lot of philosophy trends on the radar that incorporate a way of living as well as a design aesthetic for your home. Hygge, Japandi, Cottagecore all weave together a way of life as well as an interior design style. Which makes sense because the way our home is affects how we live and operate and enjoy our life. Wabi Sabi a Japanese way of living that practices a mindful and slowing down of life. Much like the way of hygge and the cottagecore aesthetic.
Like a lot of design philosophies wabi sabi is a way of life that impacts how you feel and approach the everyday of life. Everyone of us is different, so different styles and living will appeal to different people. Wabi sabi is more about appreciation and the beauty in imperfect and incomplete things. More of a humble, modest and simple surrounding. The rejection of everything excessive, extreme and artificial. With emphasis on everything authentic. Wabi Sabi is also recognition that not everything is perfect and nothing last forever and an acceptance in that.
The meaning of wabi sabi has changed a lot over the years. This philosophy traces back to Zen Buddhism. One of the original meanings of wabi sabi referred to the loneliness of living in nature away from society. With a focus of spiritual solitude practiced in Buddhism. Which is one of the main principle in wabi sabi today, creating a place for self reflection and where you can relax. Today the meaning of wabi sabi has more of a positive attachment to it. Wabi roughly translated means the “imperfection of an object” or “rust”. Sabi refers to “flawed beauty” or “beauty that comes with age”.
This design philosophy is for those who want to be a bit more intentional about their way of living.
The 7 Principles of Wabi Sabi
- Kanso – Simplicity
- Funkinsei -Asymmetry
- Shibumi – Beauty In The Understated
- Shizen – Naturalness
- Yugen – Subtle Grace
- Datsuzoku – Freedom from habits
- Seijaku – Tranquility
7 Ways To Incorporate Wabi Sabi
1. Editing Down
The most important principle of wabi sabi is simplicity in living and personal items. Rather than adding lots of things to your home have a look at what you have already. Declutter and edit down your things. Have a think about what the items mean to you and if it’s really needed. This is to strengthen freedom from attachments of the material things in life. Which reduces stress and anxiety and brings a sense of peace and tranquility.
Rid your home of unnecessary clutter which will bring your clarity in other areas of life. Take things away, before adding to your space. This is also gives room for important things that will eventually come into your home. Less is more in the wabi sabi way of life. This brings items down to the essentials and create more though about intentional placement. Empty space around an item makes it into a focal point. They call this “framed emptiness”, Tokonoma in Japanese. Tokono roughly translates to “tokono” and “ma”, empty space.
Example: Instead of having a gallery wall, you would have one piece of artwork on the wall with a good amount of empty space around it to highlight as the main feature.
Earthy and muted colours are the main colour palette for a wabi sabi interior. As originally the walls of a Japanese home were made from earth and mud. Colours also include the weathering of certain finishes that might have occurred over time. Like concrete, brick and even the peeling of paint that gives it a crackled and worn effect.
3. Acceptance & Appreciation
Embracing not only imperfection but where you are in your life. Sometimes we can get so caught up in how we want things to be instead of living in the now, in regards to our home and our life. Wabi Sabi teaches us to be happy with where we are in life, even if it’s not exactly where we’d hoped. There are endless possibilities and there is never a finishing line because things are always changing, and that there is always room for growth.
So remember the next time you catch yourself scrolling through Pinterest wondering why my home isn’t like that think about this Wabi Sabi principle. Even if you don’t want to take on all the pieces that make up this philosophy. Remember that there is time to get to achieve what you’re hoping for and it doesn’t have to be done all at once. Things will come as and when its ready. The same applies for life too!
Note: Appreciate the natural light and textures in your home. Take your time when designing your space. You don’t have to fill it all up at one time!
Unlike the Chinese art of Feng Shui which celebrates symmetry and balance, Wabi Sabi design goes in the opposite direction with asymmetry being one of it’s main principles. This further embraces the imperfection and acceptance qualities of the Japanese design ethos.
5. Repurpose & Upcycling
Repurposing furniture and items celebrates imperfection and blemishes which are highlighted instead of hidden away. These imperfections signify the passage of time and tell a story. Also the uniqueness of the object makes it special and one of a kind. In repurposing items we include the history while giving it a new purpose in our home. And it’s a sustainable way of living.
Kintsugi pottery where the broken pottery is glued back together with gold lacquer. Giving the pottery a new lease of life while highlighting the fact that it was once broken and celebrates the flaws instead of hiding them.
6. Natural Materials
Natural materials and un-dyed fabrics are the key things to use. Crafted and handmade pieces such as natural rugs, textiles and ceramics, rough and uneven textures. Nothing too processed and too far removed from it’s original state. Natural and un-dyed fabrics like gauze, jute, linen, reclaimed wood and timber.
Time is said to be the designer in a wabi sabi home. It achieves finishes and patterns that no one else can which is why choosing natural materials is a key factor. Wood finishes and materials that change colour and patina and with age.
The pieces that you do end up choosing for home are important. This brings in the principle of Shibumi. Simplicity is the key. The Japanese art of Ikebana, flower arranging uses as few flower stems as possible to highlight the beauty of the flowers. Wabi Sabi is definitely more of a minimal design style which is reflected in everything from arrangements and textures within the home.
The Wabi Sabi design principles tend to be a lot more minimal in terms of home living which of course not might be everyones ideal. But there are always some takeaways we can apply to our home and living whether we take wabi sabi fully on board or not.
What do you think of the Japanese design trend? Let me know in the comments below!