Wabi Sabi style (about five years late)

Another Japanese design influence that’s been gaining popularity in recent years is the philosophy of Wabi Sabi.  Two words: Hell & Yeh. 

It’s actually got absolutely zilch to do with interior design but is more a way to view the world, by appreciating the beauty of imperfections, incompleteness and the passing of time in relation to objects, people, events or places.  Simplicity and humility feature largely too.


So as these things usually go, probably a magazine editor or big name designer discovered this term and decided to make big bucks out of commercialising it and promoting it as a new interior design ‘trend’ (or am I too cynical?  I guess I’m actually supposed to buy into all that now, right?!). 

I think the concept works if you apply it to a single piece in a scheme, say…a gorgeous old reclaimed wood table or a piece of patinated copper (two ideas I’ve blogged about recently actually – see here for wood, here for copper), but I think if you start trying to apply it to a whole room it suddenly loses its meaning unless you fill the space very utilitarianly (err, is that a word?) and don’t really consider whether pieces sit well together, as the actual process of selection seems to go against the nature of the philosophy.  I’ve seen spaces described as ‘wabi sabi’ that incorporate enormous glitzy chandeliers or groupings of fashionable items, which seems to really jar with the original meaning of the term.


Anyway, enough of my moaning, I just wanted to explain a little of the context behind these images, as I understand it, and say that I frrrreaking love this concept.  I get so bored sometimes of people trying to incorporate all the current trends into interiors, or females the world over striving to be a size 0, because that’s ‘perfection’.

Some of our best loved possessions are a little bit bashed up or old, and are all the better for it: take the 6 foot long oil painting we brought back from Cuba which I managed to get black marks on when driving it home from the framer with it sticking way out the top of the Jeep (you had to see it…quite funny), or the lanterns from our terrace in Cayman that are rusty-rama after living next to the sea for 2 years.  A bit of a boshing never did any harm I don’t think, it shows that things are well loved and have a history to them. 

Anyhoo, here are a few inspiration piccies of what I’ve taken from this Wabi Sabi business.  Erm, and you may notice my minor obsession with old doors…

What do you guys think of the concept?  Would love to hear your thoughts! 



  1. Alistair says:

    Completely agree – forget glitzy trash, all about possessions that have a sense of character to them… Like my t-shirts that are over a decade old and still fit like a dream…

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