A part of our “word of the day” series.
We won’t post a new one every day, but you
get the idea. Give us ideas for new words.
Foreign and made-up words count.

Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

It is a beauty of things modest and humble.

It is a beauty of things unconventional.

The ideology of wabi-sabi is ongoing and has the need to be nurtured… as most natural systems do… or they become extinct. Saving this universe of beauty is elusive since wabi-sabi is not easily reducible to formulas or catch phrases without destroying its essence. Making rules or precisely practicing it is impossible… describing it is like holding sand in your hands.

Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness. Wabi-sabi is ambivalent about separating beauty from non-beauty. Wabi-sabi is, in one respect, the condition of coming to terms with what you consider ugly. Beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace.


As a designer we deal with the material qualities of wabi-sabi.
In these things we see:

The suggestion of the natural process. Made of materials that are visibly vulnerable to the effects of people and the environment around it.

Irregular. Since we already know what the “correct” design solutions are,
wabi-sabi thoughtfully offers the “wrong” solutions.

Intimate. Small, compact, subdued, quiet and inward. To close the gap between people and things.

Unpretentious. Things wabi-sabi have the appearance of being unstudied. With a quiet authority, and full appreciation only during direct contact.

Earthy. Usually made from materials not far removed from their original condition. Craftsmanship may be impossible to discern.

Murky. Vague and blurry.

Simple. And simplicity is not so simple.