The Wabi-Sabi Way
Representing a Japanese worldview, the wabi-sabi trend of finding beauty in the humble is catching on in America. Are you ready to celebrate imperfection?
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Maybe you have a chipped vase that you’re thinking of putting in your garage sale pile. Or upholstery that has seen better days. You can’t imagine finding anything you’d love more, but it is getting a little worn.
Embracing a wabi-sabi way of life could change how you feel about the things in your home that are less than perfect.
Most of us are familiar with feng shui, the ancient Chinese philosophy that dictates precise positions for furniture and accessories for a harmonious environment. Even hotter these days is wabi-sabi, a Japanese import that has more to do with how you view and embrace your environment rather than how you arrange everything in it. It's not a decorating style, like cottage or Old World, but an aesthetic that has a subtle spiritual component courtesy of its close ties to Zen Buddhism.
While some would argue the essence of wabi-sabi is almost impossible to translate, author Leonard Koren defined the term in his book, Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, as "a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, the beauty of things modest and humble, the beauty of things unconventional." In other words, wabi-sabi is not shiny, perfect and new. Instead, it represents humble objects with a timeworn beauty — a handcarved wooden bowl, a collection of pebbles, your grandmother's faded curtains. Muted earthy colors and natural materials like rice paper, wood and stone evoke a wabi-sabi look and feeling.
Host Joan Steffend and designer Beth Solberg add contemporary Asian style to an ordinary bedroom.