How to Embrace the Wabi Sabi Design Concept

The perfectly imperfect way to welcome a simple, authentic and natural style of living.

Now is the time to search for the beauty in the disorder; gently expose weaknesses and reveal new strengths. This trend explores resilience and recovery when things breakdown; it is a quest for truth and realness. At its core is ‘Wabi-Sabi’ – the Japanese philosophy of finding beauty in imperfection and the art of ‘Kintsugi’ – repairing damage and breakages with precious materials.

“In traditional Japanese aesthetics, Wabisabi (侘寂) is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.”

Image credit – Gold Grout; Anahi Restaurant, Paris

This trend is firmly linked to wellbeing and mindfulness, a desire to live a clutter-free life. It integrates harmony, tranquility, peace and balance with a longing to be in tune with nature. We can create a space of sanctuary within our own homes, a place of refuge from our fast-paced and technologically dominated lives. Perhaps hide away all digital items and focus on the natural elements of a room such as light and space. Strip away any unnecessary objects, there is no need to have random ornaments on display, and have no fear of bareness; learn to be satisfied with minimal possessions.

Image Credits – Kader Attia, Bedroom with “Expressions” Wallpaper by Mr Perswall  

Wabi-sabi decor inspires minimalism where possessions are kept purely to their functional and essential uses; often having their own history; proudly presenting scratches and cracks that tell a story of its love-worn past. Furniture and belongings should have a greater sense of purpose with multi-use features and adaptable or flexible design qualities.

Celebrate humble materials; flax, linens, leather, stone, woods, clay, wool and bamboo all materials that are longer lasting, improve with age and can be easily repaired. Intriguing materials and surface textures disrupt the subdued color palette, drawing you near for closer examination… think cracked black marble, raw concrete and weather beaten timbers or charred wood. Woven cloqué fabrics have a blistered surface texture, where frayed edges, stray threads, pulls and loose loops of yarn can be seen in soft furnishing products. Long haired, tightly curled and crimped shearlings add the finishing touches to this look; creating a cosy, comforting calmness.

Image Credits – Tablecloth by Elvis Robertson , Kintsugi Tea bowl Bowl source, Rugs by Luke Irwin, Wood by Chris Liljenberg Halstrøm

Ultimately this concept is about re-thinking what has worth, ask yourself;

  • What should be salvaged/restored?
  • What should be cherished?

Perhaps it is important to firstly establish what luxury means to you. Reconsider your belongings and decide which items you truly feel you can’t live with out. Contemplate what things do you own that you might wish to pass down to the next generation and think more about how the ‘wear and tear’ of a product can simply add to its beauty; telling its own story. Don’t discard damaged products so easily, mend things beautifully and cherish them anew. Textiles and fashion items are a great example of how we can turn an unwanted or damaged garment into something truly unusual, unique and special… don’t throw away your favorite knitwear just because it has a hole in it!

Grailed Obscure JacketTotokaelo – Ann Demeulemeester Black/Beige Nina Knit, Anne Sofie Madsen Distressed Roll Neck Sweater, Junya Watanabe Cable Knit Runway Sweater

This month we will be at the London Stationery Show curating a display and presenting our Christmas 2018 trend; Imperfect Beauty which explores this Wabi Sabi concept. Our trend display will enable you to gather innovative ideas on how to style and merchandise for christmas, as well as collect further information on the color palettes and relevant material choices. To find out how this trend translates into stationery product design head to the Stationery Trend Hub at the show or join us on one of our trend tours!