Wabi-sabi celebrates the beauty of flaws inherent in nature.
In his book Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, author Leonard Koren describes the Japanese aesthetic philosophy as “a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.” These succinct words have become the de facto definition of wabi-sabi since he introduced it to the West in 1994.
“If you have an icon of wabi-sabi, it is the Raku tea bowl,” says Leonard, of the rough-hewn ceramic bowls most associated with the philosophy. “It is a kind of shorthand. That tea bowl communicates the continuum of nature.” And although wabi-sabi is deeply rooted in nature, Leonard believes it can be found also in the manmade world. “A classic example is a rusting vintage car from the ’50s that’s been out at the beach for a long time,” Leonard says. The plastic and metal have a way of decaying in an interesting way. “When wabi-sabi was first coalescing, plastic and metal didn’t exist. That doesn’t mean we can’t find it now."
It’s not only possible to have a wabi-sabi home, but also a "wabi-sabi marriage," or perhaps even a wabi-sabi life.