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Image / Editorial

Wabi-sabi: The ancient Japanese philosophy that is becoming a big interiors trend


By Melisa Boyalikli
12th Mar 2019
Wabi-sabi: The ancient Japanese philosophy that is becoming a big interiors trend

Between a perfectly curated Instagram grid and the celebrity lives we’re bombarded with (and, let’s be honest, sometimes go looking for), the thought of striving for perfection sounds exhausting. And we’re not talking about being perfect, we mean just the effort of trying to be sucks all of the energy out of us. That’s why we’re happy to get on board with wabi-sabi.

So what is wabi-sabi exactly? It’s a Japanese philosophy that has been around since the 15th century and is all about finding beauty in imperfection. It’s about embracing the richness and texture of nature and its processes and the charm of authenticity. You probably do this already without even really thinking about it. Admiring the dappled sunlight dancing beneath a tree, dragging your fingers along the rough textures of a stone wall, seeing the moss grow up around the flagstones – all of these bring an odd sense of comfort that’s difficult to place – that is wabi-sabi.

Wabi-sabi is also some thing that can be brought into the home. Here are some key principles that are a great starting point for making your home a more peaceful, natural space.

Artisanal Products

Wabi-sabi is all about embracing and celebrating authenticity and what’s more authentic than beautifully handmade objects by local makers. Every time we pick up a Hewn spoon, we can’t help but feel for the knife’s marks as it carved and admire its simple, functional beauty.

The Pyramid Beech Spoon Set, €150, Hewn

Juxtaposition

Not everything needs to be matching or symmetrical for it to look attractive. In fact, there’s something about a mix-and-match approach that adds character to a room. Try pairing unlikely items together, like a rough slate plate with bright white china or juxtapose two totally different pieces of art of your wall. If you feel the look is getting too messy, try and keep at least one element the same, whether it’s the size, shape or colour to a keep a sense of an accidental-on-purpose feel to it.

Circle Illustration with Frame, €69, April & The Bear

Natural Materials

A big part of wabi-sabi is about connecting to the earth and nature, so it’s no surprise that as an interior design trend it relies on the use of natural materials and surfaces. This three-table set from Finnish Design Shop is a breath of fresh air and will radiate warm wood tones around a room.

April tables, set of 3, €4340, Finnish Design Shop

Bring the outdoors inside

Elements from nature have the universal ability to create feel-good vibes and are a major component of a wabi-sabi home, so decorate with as many fresh flowers or plants as your heart desires. These intricate ceramic pots from Anthropologie are a great addition to tie the complete look together.

Ivory Epoch Pot, €18, Anthropologie

Clear the clutter

A wabi-sabi home should be as clutter-free as possible in order to inspire feelings of peace and tranquility. Although we are celebrating imperfection, it does not mean we need to accept chaos into our homes. Some beautiful, woven baskets can help keep organisation in order while still adding a sense of style.  

Round Woven Basket, €45.99, Zara Home

Feature image: Annie Spratt on Unsplash