Nothing is perfect, nothing is permanent, and nothing is complete: these are the three key principles of Wabi-sabi, the minimalist Japanese aesthetic that is winning over design lovers all over the world. We can call this trend the Asian counterpart of the hygge style, a design trend that regards small defects as precious and in which every element must point to beauty, authenticity and experience.
The traditional Japanese philosophy is an integral part of this aesthetic because it chooses minimal shapes, simple furniture and unique, asymmetric elements whose imperfection makes them perfect for the room. Are there any famous examples? Tadao Andō’s exposed cement, Axel Vervoordt’s endless, empty spaces and the sculptures by Takashi Murakami are all comparable to Wabi-sabi.
Anything unnecessary is removed to make spaces larger, including partition walls (open spaces are ideal) and occasional furniture (especially if there is too much of it and in every room).
The materials used don’t differ much from Scandinavian-style furniture: they must be natural and have unique detailing. Wood and marble veins that create unrepeatable patterns, the irregularity of ceramic surfaces, and the brushstrokes of a painting in the middle of the room: all these elements have a key role in Wabi Sabi.
Colours follow the same rules: beige, white and grey tones as well as natural, warm shades are all welcome. Every colour must be neutral and convey a feeling of peace.
For as much as regards layouts the rule is less is more: less furniture, less partition walls, less knick-knacks. Each room must have one or two focal points around which a harmonious design can be created: a custom fireplace in the living room, a table in the dining room, a bed in the bedroom.
Who is the Wabi-sabi style suitable for then? The ideal Wabi-sabi fan is a person who doesn’t like messy places and dark colours, one who wants a tidy home that contrasts with the chaotic outside world.
Cover photo: City cladding, in polished Bianco Mediterraneo marble with a bench in antique-effect Wengé Quarzite.