Embracing the art of imperfection is a trend that has recently surfaced in the design world. As we continue to move toward a society obsessed with polishing and editing every component of our lives off and online, it’s refreshing to instead place value on the beauty that comes with life’s natural wear and tear.
Wabi Sabi, the ancient Japanese philosophy of using organic materials that have natural imperfections and embracing authenticity, originated in the 15th century. Wabi translates to living with humility and simplicity while being unified with nature, while sabi refers to accepting the lifecycle of anything, even with all its flaws. By applying the concept of Wabi Sabi to interiors, designers create tranquil spaces that possess a genuinely inhabited atmosphere with cherished pieces telling a rich story.
This antique broken bowl showcases Kintsugi, which translates to “golden repair” the art of fixing broken ceramics with lacquer dusted or mixed with precious metals. The Japanese technique not only gives the piece a unique appearance, but it commemorates the beauty in flaws by precisely highlighting them.
The Auckland Table by Riva 1920, reflects Wabi Sabi’s emphasis on appreciating the weathering that occurs in nature over time. The asymmetrical shape and varying coloring of this ancient New Zealand wood are exceptional and will only continue to become more beautiful with age.
Valuing the imperfect isn't solely present in Japanese culture, but also appears in Italian culture as well, dating back to the 18th century. Venetian’s Terrazzo, is a composite material that consists of shards of marble, quartz, granite, and glass most commonly used for floors. Modern day designers have begun to incorporate this mosaic material into other forms.
The #3000 Mirror by Trueing Studio pays tribute to the terrazzo floors found in lobbies in Milan and palazzos in Venice. The irregular shapes of marble, mirror, and aggregate material encompass the beauty in asymmetry.
Imperfection is art in its purest form. Incorporating pieces with unique flaws in design brings an authentic touch to any space. In both design and life, it’s helpful to reflect on Wabi Sabi’s principles which are that “Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”