Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Imperfect, Impermanent, Incomplete"

Wabi-sabi (侘寂) is a comprehensive world view or aesthetic, rooted in the acceptable of transience. Practiced by the ancient Japanese and Chinese (and now widely adopted in the West), the aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".*
Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, modesty, intimacy, and the suggestion of natural processes.

I am very drawn to this aesthetic and without realizing that it had a name, I have practised it for years.
The modesty part - "not so much" (wink) but the other hallmarks are very dear to my heart and the objects and processes which surround me.

I simply adore imperfect metal, with dings and scratches, old paper and discarded objects which no longer serve their original purpose.

The desk in my office is made from an old cedar house door (not in the photo above).

My garden is filled with stones and rocks and bits of driftwood.

I am drawn to asymmetry and this often comes through in my designs.

Old, tarnished glass speaks to me and I could spend days digging through flea markets for old, imperfect photo and picture frames and watering cans.

Posted by Picasa
* - Leonard Koren
Plant photos by AJ - all rights reserved,,,


  1. I am seeing beauty in all of these examples, despite the asymmetry.
    So, we're bucking the trend.
    It's natural in humans to prefer symmetry, (if we're talking about faces anyway.)
    Not that we were.
    Oh, just tell me to shut up.
    Hope you're feeling better x

  2. We were talking about anything you wanted to talk about, it's always a joy talking to you and with you! I am feeling all better, thanks! oxox AJ

  3. That symmetry thing in faces..I heard or read that too. I too am drawn to a more asymmetrical look, design-wise, and firmly believe old crusty industrial finds mix well with anything. Thanks for teaching me the name of an aesthetic I already adore. Cannot get enough of the tarnished and tattered.

  4. Hey, put that quite well - "old crusty industrial finds" - love it!