In essence, Wabi-Sabi is a practice of finding acceptance in transience and beauty in imperfection. It is taking notice of things that are impermanent and incomplete as aesthetically pleasing.
A concept rooted in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, it is sometimes explained through the example of a loved homemade teacup, cracked or chipped by use and time. These lines and gaps are reminders that nothing is permanent — change is inevitable.
Being able to observe humbly the changes that come in the natural cycle of life, in growth, in weathering, in fading and decay is one thing. To behold and embrace the beauty in the changes is another.
In interior design, Wabi-Sabi tends to lean into minimalism, not in a stark way, but in an intentionally modest way. It is working with the mindset of being happy with what you have, imperfections and all. Items featured are those that tell a story and hold meaning particularly in their worn places. It is where necessity and beauty merge with calming subtlety.
With growing urgency of adopting sustainability into design, Wabi-Sabi fits right in. It abandons the need to buy and consume more, and encourages an approach of loving existing pieces.
According to green living writer of Econesting, wabi-sabi can be understood through three elements and applied through three questions.
3 Elements of wabi-sabi: Nothing lasts. Nothing is finished. Nothing is perfect.
3 Questions wabi-sabi asks: Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Is it meaningful?
Natural elements like wood or stone finishes and the use of plants are often found in Wabi-Sabi spaces. While some Wabi-Sabi inspired spaces have rustic elements and neutral palettes, others are integrated into eclectic or industrial styles with splashes of color.
It is an inspiring new way to look at not only the design of your home, but that of your life.