Saturday, October 19, 2013

Is there beauty in imperfection?

I find beauty in imperfection and impermanence.  It's all over my art. 

 The petal that is captured as it starts to decay, 

the rusted objects found in debris, the peeling layers of wallpaper in old homes, 

  and objects no longer needed for their original function, the list is endless.

Accepting  transience and  imperfection (flawed beauty) can also  relate directly to your living space.  The Japanese world view/aesthetic of wabi sabi   acknowledges three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

Wabi Sabi  reveres authenticity. When you look for authentic furniture and objects for your home you will rarely find them  in big box stores.  Natural materials predominate in wabi sabi homes: paper, aged wood, linens, cottons, etc. Look for anything that celebrates the  marks of time , weather, and  the effects of loving use.

This graphic is a good summary of the characteristics of wabi sabi. 


Characteristics of wabi-sabi include: asymmetry, asperity (roughness, irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity,  and appreciation of the integrity of natural objects and processes.  Look for: natural flawed beauty, patina, handmade, irregularity, bareness. How refreshing!

 aged cabinet,

 This aged cabinet maintains the marks of its history.  No effort could make it perfect.  The vignette on top is simple, asymmetrical  and references the beauty and temporality found in nature. While there is austerity in the products, there is also tranquility.

aqua metal trunk, rusted, marked, wabi sabi

Many  examples of wabi sabi contain little or no colour, but I feel  colour is not exclusive of this aesthetic.  Here's a good example that has all the characteristics noted above. The marks of time are evident, even more so on colour.

aged bowl, stone, twig, cherry blossoms

The delicacy of pink blossoms against all the weathered wood pits naturalness against roughness. 

Not every space that has  wabi sabi characteristics looks exactly the same.  All of these spaces have some wabi sabi elements.  

 white chair, natural wood,  wicker basket with wood

bench from log, white flowers, floor length glass

The wood console table is a hint of wabi sabi against the glass.  The space is simple and tranquil.

white cabinets, natural wood, waterfall counter
I love the imprefection of this countertop against the modern, pristine cabinets.  Am I the only person who craves warmth in countertops?  Imagine the difference if this island were finished in granite.

white sofa, light wood floors, old table, wabi sabi
 Lots of natural materials, simplicity and economy is line and adornment, and a focus on the handmade.

If you want a little wabi sabi in your home here are suggestions for a start: 

wabi sabi chart

If you want to find out more about this aesthetic ....

And remember ...

And a lesson we can all learn from Wabi can also interpret it in a much looser fashion to accept what you have as beautiful and to live with only what you need.

All links to images and many more examples  on my Pinterest board Wabi Sabi 


  1. excellent put up, very informative. I wonder why the opposite specialists of this sector
    do not understand this. You must continue your writing.
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  2. Great blog! Never heard of wabi sabi before - only wasabi! Love the textures of old wood (as you well know!)

  3. Hi Pat,
    Imagine you knew all about Wabi Sabi but didn't know the name of your aesthetic! I'm with you on the old wood...thinking about my latest assemblages.

  4. Oh I love this. I definelty have wabi sabi in my house. Abet not as nice as the pictures you sourced. I love mixing old and new. I love the imperfections of worn objects. Wow I never even heard of this so thank you very much for the insight. Cheers

    1. Glad to put a name on what you love Lesley. You are the second reader to have that reaction. It is simplicity and aged elements together that make wabi sabi. Many people love old, marred objects but they have so many of them in one room that it can look like an antique store rather than a serene abode.


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