the wabi sabi of urban lumber by strand design
“Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional.”
The above quote is from Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren. I’ve been thinking about Wabi Sabi and how it connects with our lives today. There are the obvious visual design connections, seen in the familiar trend toward all things handmade, folk art, DIY and craft. Books like Undecorate by Christiane Lemieux and Handmade Home by Mark and Sally Baily are selling an ideal of imperfection in the home. I began to take a deeper look at why. I have heard different ideas about the push for handmade, and addressed them in an earlier post, but today I took a new leap in thinking about the desire for imperfection. I was listening to this story on KPCC about a new book called Welcome to Your Child’s Brain by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang. The book is about how the brain grows from conception to college. Now whether or not you’re a parent, this is fairly fascinating stuff, and made me begin to wonder about how breakthroughs in science change how we approach life, relationships, parenting, our work, and even our art.
a wabi sabi bowl
Today we are surrounded by all things digital, slick, shiny and neat. Life is no longer left to chance…brain science takes the guesswork out of why we do what we do and how our actions affect one another. Scientific capabilities explain away myth and magic and propel us into the future reality of our childhood dreams. Even psychology is benefited and things like exercise and meditation can actually be proven to make a difference through the study of neuroscience.
So what does this mean? As we move toward a shiny future of definitives and scientific absolutes, are we in need of some imperfection, grasping for some rough hewn edges to hold onto? We express that need through our art, our homes and our aesthetic environment.
the wabi sabi design aesthetic in its modern form by commune
Below is my old dining table, I think my husband and I were the only ones who liked it (except for someone who saw it here). When my dad took delivery of it for me he tried to return it and called me in a panic because there were “holes in it”. A friend once came over and told me, as she looked at my new table, that her mother was getting rid of a table if we wanted it. It was big and rugged and unfinished, but when I saw it I knew I had to have it. It was the antithesis of everything around me. In a world that too often strives for perfection, it was perfectly imperfect.
Check here for some interesting info on brain science. What’s your definition of perfection?