Home Design Trend: Wabi Sabi

Wabi Sabi has been referred to as one of 2018’s hottest home design trends. This Japanese concept, in its essence, honors imperfection and impermanence. Wabi Sabi was the perfect inspiration for our Spring Gallery Night installation, developed by Tim Garland, Landscape Architect and owner of Garland Alliance. You’ll love the freedom of wabi sabi, and we can’t wait to share our in-store exploration with you on April 20th and 21st.

So, What Exactly Is Wabi Sabi?

Authors and design experts agree that wabi sabi is a concept that honors the beauty and imperfection in everything natural. The translation of “Wabi” is simplicity, and a humble approach. “Sabi” means to find beauty in the natural progression of time, in age, and in wear. What do we love most about wabi sabi? It lets all of us off the home design hook. Forget about having a “perfect” home. This year’s trend? Embrace the imperfection, and find joy in the simple, natural pleasures.

How Do I Bring Wabi Sabi Into My Home Design?

Natural Materials

elements_east_wicker_stone_wood_wabi_sabiOne of the simplest ways to incorporate wabi sabi into your home design is through natural materials. Forget mass-produced faux wood furniture. Instead, opt for hand-crafted pieces with a history.

And, on the accessories front, put the fine china away, and incorporate irregularly shaped ceramic pieces into your daily routine. Terra cotta and natural stone are also beautiful materials to be used in home design. Natural materials can even extend to your linens. Linen or bamboo sheets get softer every time you wash them.

(Our combination of hand-woven wicker basket, stone Buddha statue, and antique wooden apothecary cabinet are a great example of wabi sabi)


Perfect Imperfection

elements_east_wabi_sabi_chipped_paintWhen it comes to interior design, we often talk about “finishing” a room. In wabi sabi, it’s the opposite. Mismatched chairs around your dining room table? Perfect imperfection. Wrinkled sheets on a haphazardly made bed? Perfect imperfection. The cracked ceramic mixing bowl that your grandma gave you? Perfect imperfection. Chipped paint on an antique buffet? Perfect imperfection. All of these elements make up a wabi sabi home. We do have one disclaimer: there’s a fine and very personal line between wabi sabi aesthetic and clutter. You’ll have to discover this for yourself. Try one or two wabi sabi design elements at a time to find your comfort level.

If the idea of celebrating imperfection in home design speaks to you, you’ll find some great books on the shelves at Elements East.

wabi_sabi_elements_east_milwaukee_retailWabi Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers

Throughout his research, author Leonard Koren was unable to discover a simple definition of wabi sabi. His assessment, which has become fairly standard in the West, is as follows: “Wabi sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, the antithesis of our classical Western notion of beauty as something perfect, enduring, and monumental.”




wabi_sabi_house_elements_east_milwaukee_retailThe Wabi Sabi House

Author Robyn Griggs Lawrence pays homage to the history of wabi sabi while offering suggestions to apply it to modern home design. Readers are encouraged to slow down and recognize beauty in the ordinary.

Elements East-Garland Alliance Wabi Sabi Installation

We knew when we asked Mr. Garland to design an installation that reflected East meeting West, and old meeting new, that he would develop something incredible. Here are a few of his reflections on wabi sabi and developing his work:

“The installation is a spiritual reflection on man and nature – where we came from, where we are now, and even the question, ‘where are we going’? My reflections on wabi sabi philosophy were fruitful. In creating the installation, I considered the beauty of items imperfect, incomplete, and impermanent.

The material qualities that spoke to me were intimate, unpretentious, earthy, and simple. Nothingness is the ultimate simplicity. Wabi sabi romanticizes nature, it accommodates to degradation and attrition. Corrosion and contamination make its expression richer.

We have created and interactive piece that reflects upon these observations. We hope that many people will socialize with this ephemeral space.”

Tim_Garland_elements_east_wabi_sabi_installationWith more than 35 years of diverse experience in landscape architecture, Tim Garland brings a fresh perspective and a passion for environmental sustainability to every project. His extensive background in commercial, residential and therapeutic sectors has earned him a reputation for versatility and design with purpose and conscience. The scope of his work ranges from neighborhood backyards and school playgrounds to large corporate headquarters and medical centers. Learn more about Tim’s work by visiting Garland Alliance.

The wabi sabi collaboration between Elements East and Garland Alliance will open on Friday, April 20 during Third Ward Gallery Night from 5:00pm-9:00pm, and will be available for viewing on Gallery Day, April 21 from 10:00am-4:00pm.





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