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"Not the direct brilliance of the sun, but the refracted one of the moon is beautiful"
Just as Zen Buddhism is unknown to millions of Europeans, Wabi-Sabi sounds at least foreign to most people in this country. But many know for sure that this is an old Japanese aesthetic concept that is little known to us, which teaches us to perceive the beauty around us in a different way. In a nutshell, wabi sabi is Japanese-style aesthetics. It is sought in plain, simple things that can be imperfect, even flawed. If you have a special interest in creative living ideas, in new, insufficiently researched areas, then today's article will further motivate you and encourage you to perceive the unknown differently and to discover the special in the imperfect. We invite you to a short trip to new realms to find the Japanese beauty ideal of organic shapes and individual solutions together. Do you want to come with me?
Wabi Sabi aesthetics illustrates the Japanese ideal of beauty
What does wabi sabi mean?
This question is difficult to answer because it is not at all easy to translate the two words Wabi and Sabi into German. Rather, they represent a non-translatable conceptual unit whose actual content is difficult to explain, even for Japanese. Nevertheless, we are trying to unveil this secret here.
Wabi originally meant something like "lonely in nature" or "living far away from society". Sabi meant something like "to wither", "to be old, to show patina, to have maturity". This original meaning changed in the 14th century and the very special word composition got more positive connotations. Wabi now means rustic simplicity, freshness and calm, even understated elegance. Sabi means beauty and serenity, which become more apparent with age, making us think of transience more often, despite wrinkles on the human face and signs of wear on objects.
In today's Japanese, wabi sabi can be summed up as "aesthetics in natural simplicity". You can take them with you Define "imperfect beauty". If you want to research further, you will certainly find many other interpretations, for example in the works of well-known experts in this field such as Leonard Koren, Andrew Juniper or Richard R. Powell.
Wabi Sabi is difficult to translate into German
History of Japanese Wabi Sabi Concept
The history of Wabi-Sabi aesthetic concept is closely related to Zen Buddhism. The first beginnings of this philosophy of life could be found quite early in the period of Japanese antiquity (7th to 11th centuries). The term wabi-sabi officially appeared in the 16th century and quickly caught on in Japan. It was introduced in this form by the Japanese tea master and Zen monk Sen no Rikyū. But already in the entire Japanese Middle Ages, around the 12th century, this view spread throughout Japan, even in other Far Eastern countries.
The Japanese aesthetic concept Wabi Sabi is becoming increasingly popular in Europe as well
Aesthetic Values of Wabi Sabi
Wabi Sabi is often referred to as Japanese aesthetics or the beauty of imperfection. In it, everyone, whether professional or amateur, discovers the individual way of personally discovering the beauty around us. Every single person looks at beauty through their eyes and perceives it individually. That is why Wabi Sabi teaches us that beauty is individual and that small blemishes cannot disturb our perception at all, on the contrary, they make beauty even more perfect. Therefore, in Wabi Sabi you will find a definite tendency towards perfection and this teaching can be called Japanese-style perfectionism.
The feeling for Japanese aesthetics lets us focus on simple things and discover the beautiful in simplicity. Unpretentious and simple things are much more beautiful than those with glitz and glamor. Although in the West it would be difficult to understand this statement, let alone communicate it, one can compare the Japanese aesthetic concept with the minimalism that is so modern here and look for certain points of contact with the shabby chic style.
Minimalism in Japanese
Wabi Sabi in interior design
What we can take away from the Wabi-Sabi philosophy of life and apply it to the interior design of our easy to apply in your own four walls would be the beauty of imperfection in the first place. Don't necessarily aim for impeccability and symmetry in your room design, as it could be designed asymmetrically and also look lovely. Rather rely on naturalness, organic forms and their immortality. A simple vase with beautiful flowers is eye-catching without being obtrusive. Small flaws, quirks or tiny mistakes emphasize the individual look. You have to learn to see things around you as they are.
Ikebana - the Japanese art of flower arranging
As for the most popular materials in design according to wabi sabi teachings, stone, wood and metal can be pointed out right away. These fabrics age and show patina and signs of aging, which is highly valued in Japanese aesthetics. Cracks in the wood, a rusty tea kettle and the wrinkles on our faces correspond to the Japanese ideal of beauty. For all these are symbols of maturity and reveal a rich life experience. And that's exactly what counts at Wabi Sabi and has always been highly valued to this day!
Creative living ideas that negate glitz and splendour
Creative living ideas in Japanese style