If you’re looking for a sense of balance in your everyday life, one way of making it a reality in the space you occupy most, your home, is to embrace the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi. What is wabi sabi, you may ask?
“Wabi sabi is a concept where the appreciation of imperfection and its connection with nature serves as a new way to find happiness,” says Jessica Macias, founder of Maison Numen, an e-commerce site that curates fine, one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces from across the globe that fit the increasingly prolific wabi sabi décor trend.
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With today’s consumers being increasingly aware of the concepts of provenance, sustainability, fair trade, eco-friendly, and handmade items—not just in their lives, but in the lives of the people they affect across the globe—Macias believes this décor trend has taken off because we’re looking to purchase everything in our lives more consciously and with utility. Wabi sabi is about being content with what you have rather than yearning for more.
“Those who seek to embrace wabi sabi will find happiness surrounding themselves with objects that bring them closer to their roots, to nature, objects that take them back to their essence—which are handmade pieces that not only tell the story behind the people who made them, but reflect our human nature through the beauty of imperfection,” Macias says.
As you look to integrate the art and luxury of wabi sabi into your home, you can begin by gravitating toward functional items that aren’t mass-produced, or at the very least, those with character that don’t appear to be mass-produced. Instead, try to discover items at little markets and appreciate the work of local artisans by bringing their unique pieces into your home.
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“A wabi sabi object is a soulful piece, an object with a past, with vitality; it is rich, it’s authentic, and it has a long future ahead of it, because time will make it increasingly beautiful. It is an object that tells a story,” Macias further explains, so you shouldn’t mind banging it around a bit.
Here are just a few of our favorites available online right now to get you started:
“Closed Mondays is known for their locally handmade baskets that embrace the beautiful imperfections that arise out of the artistic process. I especially love the beautiful Cracked Basin for wabi sabi- inspired interiors,” says Brooke Smith of Brooklyn-based Brooke Smith Design. “As its designer, Bekka Palmer, put it: ‘The best thing about this basket is that it looks like it might have started as a mistake, but alas all of those tiny cracks were added on purpose.’”Buy Now
Pare down your living room and let the clean lines of this coffee table speak for itself; up close, the natural wood splits give this acacia wood table a distressed, one-of-a-kind feel, even if it is technically produced in greater quantity. Buy Now
“A perfect example of a wabi sabi décor item are these Tamegrout glazed candle holder sets, that are handmade in Morocco. These pieces are made by skilled potters in Tamegrout Village located in the south of Morocco. These pieces travel to the Marrakesh souk [by] camel, so most of them arrive with scratches and chips. These pieces are narrators of their own stories, the story of the makers and their travels, and their imperfections make them beautiful,” says Macias.Buy Now
“Steven Bukowski, a Brooklyn-based designer, recently launched an edition of these brilliant brass censers,” says Smith. “They are hand-finished and will develop a beautiful patina over the years. In both form and function, these pieces symbolize acceptance of transience and the passage of time.”Buy Now
“We all bear scars in our lives and relationships, and there’s beauty and character in the repairs we’ve made to our souls,” writes Amy Davis of Monster Dance Designs, a glassware shop on Etsy. “I wanted to celebrate the idea and the art form with this design that mimics the Japanese pottery tradition of filling in the cracks with gold. Doing so calls attention to the item’s history while making the item even stronger and more valuable than before.”Buy Now
Another, more literal play on the gold-filled crack treatment (also known as Kintsugi), these plates will strike up conversation at your dinner table. Buy Now
The iron frame and mesh of this pendant are woven together to resemble shapes in nature, and provide a stunning statement piece over any dining table, breakfast bar island, or strategically placed next to your favorite chair.Buy Now
These handmade ceramic bowls have a lived in, rusted look to them, and since they’re hand-dipped in a glaze, each one has its own unique look. Buy Now
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Header image courtesy of Etsy.