WABISABI 101

 

Wabisabi is a traditional Japanese aesthetic concept often considered one of the oldest manifestations of minimalism in art. At its simplest, Wabisabi is an aesthetic design ideal that stresses the authentic over the artificial, the worn over the new, and the imperfect over the ideal. Wabi can refer to the imperfections of objects, the simplicity of everyday items that fulfill a function rather than a form. Sabi brings to mind wear and tear that reminds us that nothing lasts forever and that signs of age on an object can help us appreciate its value that much more. After all, both natural and man-made objects experience their own lives as they are created and fall into decay. Appreciating this natural process that confirms the authenticity of existence is what Wabisabi is all about.

 

"PARED DOWN TO ITS BAREST ESSENCE, WABISABI IS THE JAPANESE ART OF FINDING BEAUTY IN IMPERFECTION AND PROFUNDITY IN NATURE, OF ACCEPTING THE NATURAL CYCL OF GROWTH, DECAY, AND DEATH. IT'S SIMPLE, SLOW, AND UNCLUTTERED - AND IT REVERES AUTHENTICITY ABOVE ALL"

- Tadao Ando, Japanese Architect 

Japanese pottery, image via Pinterest

  

Wabisabi Art & Design:

Emerging in the mid-20th century, Brutalism gained popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. The word "brutalism" comes from the French words "bréton brut" meaning "raw concrete." Known for a utilitarian feel, Brutalist buildings have a graphic quality and are often institutional buildings. Post-WWII nations worldwide were looking to rebuild, and concrete was affordable. Brutalism lacks a clear set of principles and takes a different form in different regions. In Eastern Europe, the style was associated with socialism and authoritarian power. Still, in warmed post-colonial climates like Brazil, India, and Kenya, Brutalism seemed to assert new freedom with a simultaneous sense of strength and handmade design.

 

Tea room at Koto-in built by Sen no Rikyu in the Daitokuji Zen Temple

enso by Zen priest Hakuin Ekaku

7 PRINCIPLES

 

Kanso – Simplicity
Funkinsei -Asymmetry
Shibumi – Beauty In The Understated
Shizen – Naturalness
Yugen – Subtle Grace
Datsuzoku – Freedom from habits
Seijaku – Tranquility

 


 

Annabel Kutucu

 

Japanese pottery, 1600-1700

Aged carved wood stool, image via Pinterest

 

Axel Vervoordt

 

A ceramic dish repaired with gold, a Japanese art called kintsugi

CHARACTERSITICS:

  • Raw textures
  • Earthy hues
  • Organic and natural materials
  • Aging - patina, rust
  • Minimal

Chung Chang-Sup, Return 77-A, 1977

Ethan Stebbens

 

Axel Vervoordt

Axel Vervoordt

 

Wabisabi Architecture:

Historically the most common representation of wabi-sabi in architecture is thought to be the tea house. With a simple design and basic construction, the tea house clearly showcases the concept of Wabisabi, with a focus on imperfect materials and the joy of sharing tea with another person. Sen no Rikyū, one of the earliest known tea masters, changed the traditional tea house from opulent and luxurious to a simpler and more balanced design, embracing imperfections.  

 

Ginkakuji, shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, 1482

 

 

MATERIALS:

  • Wood
  • Stone
  • Concrete
  • Clay
  • Linen

Japanese Tea Room, image via Pinterest

 

The use of time-worn objects and natural materials is key to attaining that balance and applying the Wabisabi philosophy correctly. Wabisabi interiors are elegant, sparse and imperfect, yet deliver a very modern take on luxury interior design that finds its inspiration in the colors and textures of nature. 

 

 

Yen-Chi Chen

 

Image via Pinterest

NAMES TO KNOW
  • Sen no Rikyū
  • Tadao Ando
  • Kengo Kuma
  • Axel Vervoordt

    Image via Pinterest

     

    Mitsuo Matsuoka