27 APR 2021

Embracing Wabi-Sabi

First appearing in the 12th century, Wabi-Sabi describes the Japanese philosophy centred on the acceptance of beauty found within imperfection. In the context of interior design, it translates to an aesthetic that balances authenticity with simplicity, where less is more.

Though the philosophy has been around for centuries in Japan, it has been popularised globally through designers like Tatsuro Miki and Axel Vervoodt, whose works surpass time, place and trend with their natural, pared back aesthetic. The notion that nothing is ever really complete, perfect or permanent forms the founding principles of Wabi-Sabi. Rawness, simplicity, modesty, intimacy, and a grounding respect for nature and time-worn processes are all characteristic of the philosophy. It is interesting to us to see the definition of luxury interiors shifting from ostentatious and decorative to being pared back and subtle – an aesthetic that speaks to quality and materiality that is at the heart of Wabi-Sabi.

Here at Mr. Bigglesworthy, we have long been drawn to this concept in interior design, not only because we specialise in preserving timeless vintage design but also because we have a deep respect for patina, history and exceptional craftsmanship. When we restore vintage pieces, there is a focus on conserving an object’s history rather than making it look new. Embracing the patina and age of things such as a mid century sideboard is not only a more sustainable and cheaper option, it can also be a philosophical act of accepting the imperfect nature of life and appreciation of the beauty of age, roughness and wear.

Below, we’ve put together a short selection of some of our favourite interiors that embrace the Wabi-Sabi spirit – each showcasing a perfectly imperfect style.

Axel Vervoordt & Tatsuro Miki

Image Credit / Photographer Unknown via thegreenwichhotel.com

The TriBeCa Penthouse was created by Belgian designer Axel Vervoordt and Japanese architect Tatsuro Miki. Inspired by the neighbourhood’s industrial past and the aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi, the design is centred around the natural materials used – reclaimed timber, stone and steel with layers of linen to soften the look.

Maria Marinina

Image Credit / Photographer Unknown via behance.net

There is an unexpected beauty in weathered objects and raw materials and interior designer Maria Marinina understands this wholeheartedly. Throughout, there is a feeling of calm, conjured by the natural materials of raw concrete, timber, and stone. These textured organic materials form a beautifully imperfect base for a home. She has cleverly created an interior that embraces Wabi-Sabi principles of authenticity and simplicity without looking cold or sterile.

Norm Architects

Image Credit courtesy of Norm Architects via normcph.com

With an earthy palette of all-natural and rich materials, this house designed by Norm Architects gives you the feeling of being in the middle of nature while inside. The design shows a respect for nature, history and patina inherent to the Wabi-Sabi philosophy.

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