Wabi-sabi: the latest buzzword to hit the design world

31 August 2017 - 16:05 By Yolisa Mkele
 Wabi-sabi is a design aesthetic that's in love with asymmetry.
Wabi-sabi is a design aesthetic that's in love with asymmetry.
Image: Supplied

In the world of traditional Japanese aesthetics there exists wabi-sabi.

For those hoping to impress their pretentious friends, it is a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Sexy, right?

Derived from Buddhist teachings about impermanence, suffering and the absence or emptiness of self-nature, it favours a design aesthetic that's in love with asymmetry, roughness, austerity, simplicity and the kind of thing that reminds you of an old monk in the woods.

Author Richard Powell says: ''Wabi-sabi nurtures all that's authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect."

Naturally this makes it a favourite of design faddists with a taste for exotic ideas that are hard to pronounce and lend themselves to vague quasi-philosophical explanations (We're looking at you, hygge).

As with many visual representations of traditional Japanese art, it's incredibly beautiful but rather formal.

One gets the impression that if you were to wabi-sabi your house you would only be able to entertain a confessional of monks.

That won't stop it from being a hot topic at upcoming design events so brush up on your catchphrases and don't confuse it with the green stuff that accompanies your sushi.

• This article was originally published in The Times.

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