meta name="p:domain_verify" content="83432fc69a1d6df071f49df584f9d839 Laurl Designs: Interior Design Term of the Day- Wabi Sabi

Monday, January 1, 2018

Interior Design Term of the Day- Wabi Sabi

My student, Ellie, lamented that she wants to know more terms to talk about design. And, in giving that some thought, I decided that blog posts were the best way to offer knowledge in a creative way that allowed for inbox delivery and promotes the idea of lifelong learning. So, for Ellie, and all those looking to improve their design vocabulary, I am starting a series of interior design terms of the day. Sometimes short, sometimes long, or sometimes illustrated, these posts are as much for my students as for anyone wanting to learn more about interior design.

Wabi Sabi

I define Wabi Sabi as a celebration of the imperfect as well as an improvement on the perceived imperfect. It is a Japanese term that is not about design, but about life and acceptance of the flawed and the passage of time. However, it can be applied to design and we see it throughout the history of things and currently in some aspects of the green movement.

From typical antique repair techniques, like the Kintsugi repair work with china repaired with gold to the Victorian era repair of staples, both seen below.

Gold repairs in classic blue and white pottery.
Yellow mug circa 1820's with many staple repairs from blog Past Imperfects
To a more modern aesthetic of George Nakashima, known for his "live edge" furniture, like this example below from
George Nakashima Table with Fissures 1
To the ubiquitous Tobacco Baskets that adorn every newlyweds mantle as a placeholder until they buy the "good art".
Antique Yellow Trim Tobacco Basket - Image 1 of 5
Tobacco basket from
This is now so ubiquitous that Ballard Designs is now having them made and selling "perfect" ones.

Wabi sabi acknowledges the passage of time, the bumps and bruises that can come along with it, and the "fixes" that occur. It is the celebration of the perfectly imperfect, or as a antique dealer recently referred to it as "the make do's" of the world.  A key point to know is that Wabi Sabi is not about poor craftsmanship, it is about allowing the excellent craftsmanship to live another day and sometimes in another way.

So tell me, what do you want to know about? What is wabi sabi in your world?

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