In Part 1 , we discovered the meaning of Wabi Sabi and where it originated from. We were transported back in time, in ancient Japanese tea ceremonies where Wabi Sabi was born as a way to explain that one does not need to be perfect to be precious. As Wabi Sabi made its way to the West through arts and books, more and more people found serenity and happiness in its message.
So now that we understand the meaning and the importance of Wabi Sabi, how do we apply it in our life? In this blog post, Part 2 of our Wabi Sabi series, we will explore the different uses of Wabi Sabi. We will touch three main points: design, architecture and art. Also, as the icing on the cake, we will find out how exactly these Wabi Sabi home tips can help enhance your personal life and create a less stressful work life.
Wabi Sabi in architecture, design and art
The philosophy of Wabi Sabi can be most seen in architecture, interior design and art. But we can apply its principles in any design philosophy like storytelling, presentations, fine art, or web designing. It is a way of thinking that “less is more”, and that unevenness can be charming.
In the West, design mostly involves clean lines and symmetry. Wabi Sabi moves away from this idea of continuously perfecting your space to, instead, appreciate what you have. This often leads to decluttering and more authenticity.
The design focuses on only a few tribal symbols, diamonds or waves. Simple designs can be powerful, even in home and interior decor . It allows people to feel enriched by the story behind creating a heirloom product .
(Editor’s note: If you want to learn more about creating your own Sukhi custom rug, we created some tips and an easy-to-follow guide for you!)
1. Wabi Sabi in architecture
In Japanese architecture, Wabi Sabi has also found its place. Many Japanese homes have a washitsu, a traditional room which is mostly empty apart from having a few tatami mats, a vase with a single flower or a piece of wall art. Once more, this encourages you to pause and appreciate these few items you see as individual pieces of art.
2. Wabi Sabi in design
Another way of applying Wabi Sabi in design is celebrating empty spaces. Indeed, creating minimalist designs with plenty of empty spaces and only a few items is a way of presenting art powerfully. The focus is being placed on what’s the most important – those 2 or 3 key items that you have decided the audience would value the most. Like adding a modern oriental rug in a minimalist living room.
As Antoine de Saint-Exupery puts it, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
This reflects the beauty of embracing Wabi Sabi in design.
3. Wabi Sabi in art
Have you ever seen the “one-corner” style in Japanese paintings? An example is a painting depicting a large ocean and sky with only a small detail to the corner of it. This may be a bird or a fishing boat. But that tiny detail is hardly visible, and this is the Wabi Sabi style. It evokes the depth and space that the ocean and sky occupy, leaving you feeling a sense of being part of something so vast and incredible. Often, this visual can give you a sense of peace and relief. We are all part of something bigger.
Implementing Wabi Sabi in your life
It is not only in design and art that Wabi Sabi finds its place. Being a philosophy, Wabi Sabi can be implemented in your everyday life, from the most mundane tasks to the most complex and meaningful decisions you make.
“When the Japanese mend broken objects they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold , because they believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”
In relationships, careers, health, money matters, interest and life goals, we constantly experience changes, we re-assess what we really want, and we reconsider options. Sometimes the changes are subtle, like deciding to go with a different wine for your dinner one night. Other times, the changes are major: you decide to quit your job, you decide to move to another city or country, or you decide to embrace a life-changing habit. Let’s now look at how Wabi Sabi can be implemented in our life and our careers.
1. Wabi Sabi and life
Wabi Sabi teaches us that all things are dynamic, and nothing is everlasting. So, trying to hold on to the past and over plan the future is pointless and stressful.
In the award-winning book, “Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life” by Beth Kempton , the author discusses with her friend about Wabi Sabi. This friend explains the concept of Wabi Sabi creatively by comparing it to bamboo. While bamboo grows, it is sensitive to its environment. It flexes itself and follows the wind and the sunlight. Its roots are firm, but its direction is ever changing as it shows little resistance to the environment. As a result, bamboo stands strong and in harmony is what is around it.
Holding on to the past, does not allow us to live in the present. Being caught up in the nostalgia of the best times of our lives or the regrets of failures we think we could have avoided can cause more damage than good. The past is meant to remain there. It offers invaluable life lessons that can be used to make decisions in the present.
Worrying about the future, does not allow us to celebrate current achievements. How many times have you achieved a small goal and started asking yourself what’s next without celebrating the moment? How many times have you questioned yourself on how you can achieve more or do things better? If you are quick on your feet and ambitious, chances are this has happened to you many times.
Wabi Sabi allows you to become aware of this and live in the present more. It allows you to accept the good and bad things that happened in the past and let it go. So, the next time something good happens in your life, slow down, relax and soak up all that joy!
2. Wabi Sabi and career
Being stressed at work seems to be a normality, these days. Afterall, that’s how the expression “Thank God it’s Friday!” or “TGIF” became popular!
No matter whether you are working in a major corporate firm or if you are self-employed, you will be juggling with tight deadlines, external pressures and, many times, the need to attain perfection in your tasks.
And, more often than not, we find ourselves multi-tasking. However, being busy does not always mean that you are being productive. Wabi Sabi encourages us to give our undivided attention to one particular task. So instead of trying to do multiple things at a time, embrace Wabi Sabi!
If you have a project that needs to be done or a deadline to meet, isolate yourself and create small achievable goals. Remind yourself, progress is better than perfection. Close all social media, put your phone on silent mode for a few hours and find a quiet spot to focus. You will be surprised how much you will get done this way! Also, remember to re-assess, adapt to changes and celebrate each small task completed. That’s the Wabi Sabi way.
Focus is important in any task we choose to do. From writing the next best-seller to baking a delicious black forest cake, being present in that moment guarantees you are giving your best. Artists and craftsmen often give love and undivided attention to their creations. The result is a unique piece of art that can be kept and enjoyed for years.
In Part 2, we explored the uses of Wabi Sabi and how to implement it in our lives and careers. We looked at practical ways this Japanese philosophy can be achieved by taking small actions everyday. As we come to the last part of our Wabi Sabi series, we invite you to take some time and reflect on how you can use Wabi Sabi in your life. What are some habits you can start now that will allow you to live more in the present and accept imperfection?
Maybe, you might choose to start journaling every morning to help put your thoughts on paper. Maybe, you can start revisiting everything you have achieved this year and show gratitude towards it. Maybe, you can review your own flaws and imperfections and instead of blaming yourself for them, learn to accept them and be more aware of them. Use that awareness to improve your life and the lives of those around you.
Whatever you choose to do, do not stress yourself with how big or small it might be. Remember, everything changes. So, no matter how small a change might feel today, the end results, in a year or 10 years, will still amaze you!
In part 3, our final part of this series, we bring Wabi Sabi home and have some fun with our Sukhi rugs! We will focus on how to apply Wabi Sabi in your home and how Sukhi rugs can demonstrate the principles of Wabi Sabi.
Sukhi relates well with Wabi Sabi, as every Sukhi rug is a unique piece of art. They may differ slightly from the design on the picture which shows it is made just for you.
We hope you are enjoying the Wabi Sabi series so far!