Creative living ideas: Wabi Sabi – the Japanese art of finding timeless beauty in imperfection

“Not the immediate glory of the sun, but the broken of the moon is beautiful”

Just as Zen Buddhism is unknown to millions of Europeans, so does Wabi-Sabi at least seem foreign to most people in this country. But many know for sure, this is an old, with us little known Japanese aesthetic concept, which teaches us differently to perceive the beauty around us. Wabi Sabi is short in Japanese aesthetics. She is sought in plain, simple things that may be imperfect or even deficient. If you have a special interest in creative home design, new, under-researched areas, then our article today will further motivate and encourage you to take a different look at the unknown and discover the special in the imperfect. We invite you to a short trip to new fields to find together the Japanese beauty ideal of organic forms and individual solutions. Would you like to join us?

Wabi Sabi aesthetics illustrates the Japanese ideal of beauty

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What does Wabi Sabi mean?

This question is difficult to answer, because it is not easy to translate the words Wabi and Sabi into German. They are rather an untranslatable conceptual unit, the actual content of which is hard to explain for the Japanese. Nevertheless, we try to reveal this secret here.

Originally, Wabi meant “lonely in nature” or “far from society”. Sabi’s name was “wilting,” “being old, showing patina, maturity.” This original meaning changed in the 14th century and the very special word composition got more positive connotations. Wabi is now called rustic simplicity, freshness and tranquility, even simple elegance. Sabi means beauty and serenity, which come to the fore with age, make us think of the transience more often, despite wrinkles in the human face and signs of wear on the objects. In Japanese today, Wabi Sabi can be summarized as “aesthetics in natural simplicity”. You can define them with “imperfect beauty”. If you want to continue your research, you will certainly find many other interpretations, for example in the works of well-known experts in this field such as Leonard Koren, Andrew Juniper or Richard R. Powell.

Wabi Sabi is difficult to translate into German

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History about the Japanese Wabi Sabi concept

The story of Wabi-Sabi’s aesthetic concept is closely linked to Zen Buddhism. The first beginnings of this philosophy of life could be found quite early in the time of Japanese antiquity (7th to 11th centuries). The term Wabi-Sabi officially emerged in the 16th century and quickly prevailed in Japan. He was introduced in this form by the Japanese tea master and Zen monk Sen no Rikyū. But as early as the 12th century, throughout the Japanese Middle Ages, this view spread throughout Japan, even in other Far Eastern countries.

The Japanese aesthetic concept Wabi Sabi is gaining ever greater popularity in Europe

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Aesthetic values ​​of Wabi Sabi

Wabi Sabi is often referred to as Japanese aesthetics or the beauty of the imperfect. In it everyone, whether professional or layman, necessarily discovers the individual way to personally discover the beauty around us. Every single person looks at the beautiful through his eyes and perceives it individually. That is why Wabi Sabi teaches us that beauty is individual and that small blemishes do not disturb their perception, on the contrary, they make beauty even more perfect. Therefore, you will notice a definite penchant for perfection in Wabi Sabi, and this lesson can be called Japanese perfectionism.

Perfectionism in the Japanese way

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The feeling for Japanese aesthetics lets us focus on simple things and discover the beauty of simplicity. Unpretentious and simple things are much nicer than those with glamor and glamor. Although it is difficult to understand this statement in the West, let alone to tell it, one can however compare the Japanese aesthetic concept with the minimalism that is so modern in our time and look for certain points of contact with the Shabby Chic style.

Minimalism in Japanese

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Wabi Sabi in interior design

What we can take away from the Wabi-Sabi philosophy of life and use it lightly in the interior design of our own four walls would be first of all the beauty of imperfection. Do not necessarily aim for flawlessness and symmetry in your room design, because it could be asymmetrical and also delightful. Rather, focus on naturalness, organic forms and their immortality. A simple vase of beautiful flowers is eyecatching without appearing intrusive. Small flaws, quirks or tiny mistakes emphasize the individual look. You must learn to perceive the things around you as they are.

Ikebana – the Japanese art of flower arranging

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As for the most popular materials in the design according to Wabi Sabi doctrine, one can point out stone, wood and metal. These substances become obsolete and show patina and signs of aging, something that is highly esteemed in Japanese aesthetics. Cracks in the wood, a rusty teapot and the wrinkles in our faces correspond to the Japanese ideal of beauty. For all these are symbols of maturity and reveal a rich life experience. And that’s exactly what counts with Wabi Sabi and has been highly esteemed from time immemorial until today!

Creative living ideas that deny shine and splendor

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Creative living ideas in Japanese style

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