Thursday, April 28, 2016

Wabi Sabi


Have you heard of it?  

Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all.

I had heard the term used over the last couple of years.  I didn't know all that much about it until I studied the subject (and oh so many others) while I was laid up with my broken foot last year.

I really like the idea of utilizing the concept of wabi-sabi in my home.  To me, it means a focus on minimalism (certainly reducing clutter) and focusing on those items that are essential to living and their aesthetic value.  The focus should be on items made by your own hand (or at the very least, someone else's).  Items show great use and are repaired rather than replaced.

In this day and age, it is difficult and cost prohibitive to have your home and every item in it handmade, but I can strive for that ideal anyway.

It all starts with the building

When we were searching for our home in Hawaii, I had the concept of wabi-sabi in my mind.  This is not a bad idea for anyone looking for a home here as they are all unique and somewhat patched together.  If your ideal is a perfectly sterile manufactured home, you better bring a lot of money and patience with you as you search for that home.  I certainly didn't see any.

I wanted a home that felt hand made. Certainly our home was built very similarly to all homes built in the late 30's:  it is single-walled and square.  It doesn't really stand out, but these old homes were built with redwood and there were no pre-fabricated pieces.  A crew of men put it together by hand board by board.  Certainly it has been patched over the years and it shows it's wear.  I try not to judge it, rather accept it for what it is.

The kitchen feels wabi-sabi to me as it was built for a very short person (which I am not).  The cabinets and counters are all hand made.  Inside the cabinets, you can see a layer or two of old paint (deep red and hospital green).

Recently, I was able to source some Japanese sudare bamboo blinds directly from Japan via The lovely thing about many Japanese items, is that they are still hand made.  These blind are lovely and perfectly fit our living room windows.  They are sun faded and well used, but they are sound and function perfectly.  They block much of the afternoon sun while still allowing airflow -- much better than regular curtains.

An earlier version of this book, if I recall correctly, is what resonated most with me:

Maybe I'll swing by the library after work one of these days and see what they have to check out on the subject.  I would enjoy a refresher.

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