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What is Wabi Sabi?

Cream Astoria Tableware from Layered Lounge

Have you ever heard the term Wabi Sabi? You would be forgiven if you haven’t. In the interior design world the Wabi Wabi influence took off last year and its growing popularity means its here to stay. It could even take over from the recent trend for “Hygge”. We love it.

Wabi-Sabi originates from Japan. Its is a philosophy that has been around since the 15th Century and is the ability to find beauty in imperfection and impermanent. Cherishing the ageing process as a natural process of life and appreciating all the attributes that comes with it. From the wrinkles on a face, the wear and tear of an object or indeed the cracks in a building. The philosophy focuses on simplicity and puts authenticity at its heart and soul.

How does this translate into our home decor?

Wabi refers to peace and harmony, whilst Sabi means “bloom of time”. In home decor terms, Wabi Sabi is a simplistic design influence, bringing in all things natural and pure. It is a change of mindset away from aiming for perfection, to appreciating the imperfect. To some extent, you could view this influence as a rebellion against mass produced items. A movement towards handmade and unique goods. Pieces that represent their maker and tell a story, with imperfections and organic shapes. From items you buy to those your family members have made. Such as the pottery your children made in school or a blanket knitted by your grandmother.

Wabi Wabi colour palette and styling this stunning apartment
A soothing colour palette combines with natural textures and simple styling in this fabulous apartment Image credits: lefvander.se

Practicality

Possessions are pared back and valued for their beauty and utility. A less is more style, you should select items not only for how they look but how they will be used. Our Oslo bowls are a fine example. They look stunning but also make superb fruit or serving bowls. Equally the handmade Seagrass tray is a beautiful addition to a kitchen island but can also be used to carry your drinks or tea outside.

Oslo Serve Bowls by Layered Lounge
Oslo Bowls by Layered Lounge – beautiful organic shape and smooth matt ceramic

Natural Materials

With an appreciation of the world around us, natural materials feature highly in Wabi Sabi. So you can overlay this philosophy on to other design styles too. If you are a lover of Scandinavian design then incorporate ample light wood into your scheme. A Mediterranean style could see hand made terracotta pots dotted around the place. Other materials which age well over time such as stone or linen would also be good choices.

Wabi Wabi Styling in this bedroom
An abundance of natural materials add warmth to this otherwise stark white bedroom.
Image credit: Arkpad

Colour

Wabi Sabi colour schemes also take their cue from nature. This actually leaves a lot of artistic scope when it comes to your colour choice. The change in seasons, for example, can be a rainbow of inspiration from the burnt orange of the leaves in Autumn to the vivid pink of the blossom in spring. But overall, a Wabi Sabi colour palette will be calming and help create a relaxing place to live. Think earthy tones and natural shades, such as greens, beige, blues but pops of colour inspired by florals.

Sumptuous earthy tones in this bedroom scheme add warmth to the room and turn it into a true sanctuary to relax in.

Styling

When you put your scheme together, simplicity is key! Each piece needs to be able to breathe and be seen. With Wabi Sabi the look is very much paired back, unlike a maxi design style, negative spaces can simply be left empty. This bodes well for our change in focus on consumption reduction and less wastage to prevent further harm of the planet. So create a clutter free home with a more considered approach to purchases. Choose fewer pieces but invest in those you love.

Simple styling of our Hero pots. Rustic handmade beauty.

Mindset

Above all remember that Wabi Sabi originates not from a design style but a philosophy. It is a mindset. Learning to be content with life, appreciating the simple pleasures and the ageing journey. We can take away a lot from this thinking..

To read more about Wabi Sabi, take a look at the following book recommendations: “The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty” by Robyn Griggs Lawrence or “Wabi Sabi” by Beth Kimpton

Some of our favourite Wabi Sabi inspired pieces below:

From top left:

  1. Hand carved wooden tray, from £25
  2. Hero pots made from black clay, from £20
  3. Frosted candleholders, from £13
  4. Oslo Bowls, from £37
  5. Bamboo Salad Bowl, £35