Wabi-Sabi describes the Japanese philosophy centred on the acceptance of beauty found within imperfection. Translated into an interior realm, it constitutes an aesthetic that balances authenticity with simplicity – where less is definitely more.
In the words of self-proclaimed Wabi-Sabi Sensai and author Leonard Koren; “Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry.” We think this simple line from his book ‘Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers’ beautifully sums up an idea that is not so much an interior aesthetic, but a way of life.
Originating from the 12th century, Wabi-Sabi has since been widely popularised through modern-day designers such as Annabell Kutucu, Arjaan de Feyter and Axel Vervoordt whose work highlights the characteristics of Wabi-Sabi: asymmetry, simplicity, modesty, intimacy, a grounding respect for nature and an honour for time-worn processes.
Below are some of our favourite Wabi-Sabi inspired spaces that encourage us to restore a sense of calm, presence and beauty in our lives and in our homes – each showcasing a perfectly imperfect style.
Architect Arjaan de Feyter stripped back four circular, heritage, Belgian silos to form an unconventional apartment that reflects on its industrial roots. Concrete floors, textured plaster walls and brick set a precedence for raw integrity and focus on the tactility of each material. Coating all the concrete walls in a neutral mineral paint and the floors with a micro-topping surface built an earthy and tonal foundation.
Other materials selected for their patina include slabs of travertine to form the kitchen countertops and cabinets made from silvered ash and polished manually to retain their natural colour. On top of all this, De Feyter has embraced the building’s circular layout by inserting two straight walls in between each silo to create what he refers to as “visual pauses”. Stepping into this silo converted home is like stepping into a serene, sculptural paradise.
When Belgian designer Axel Vervoordt and Japanese architect Tatsuro Miki teamed up to create a luxury hotel in the heart of TriBeCa, NYC magic was bound to happen. Inspired by the neighbourhoods’ industrial past, fused with the ancient Japanese aesthetic of Wabi, the TriBeCa Penthouse has been designed around the natural materials used – reclaimed timber, stone and steel with layers of linen to soften the look.
Together Vervoordt and Miki beautifully carry the principles of Wabi-Sabi into this exclusive hotel interior. Exploring elements that inspire them and playing with natural materials and time-worn objects, they have built an absolute retreat in the middle of one of the biggest and busiest cities in the world.
Bringing together nature, craftsmanship and a unique exploration of textural diversity, Restaurant Noma 2.0 situated in Copenhagen’s Christiania highlights how thought-provoking design and an exceptional culinary craft can combine to create the ultimate sensory experience. Taking inspiration from traditional Norwegian farms, Noma 2.0 was built like a community and blends into its natural habitat. Head chef and co-owner Renè Redzepi called on architect David Thulstrup to create an interior that reflected on Noma’s heritage.
Thulstrup’s concept stays true to the external structure by repeating materials with an honest, simple and modern feel. This includes a barn-like main dining room made entirely of wood and a counter made from 200-year-old timber beams found immersed in the nearby harbour. Left deliberately stripped down, each zone allows for seasonal design elements to adorn the space including flora and fauna foraged from the surrounding area.
If it’s possible to blend the Danish concept of hygge with the Japanese ideals of Wabi-Sabi then this home is it. Overlooking the ocean of North Zealand in Denmark, Norm Architects’ Seaside Abode blurs the lines between inside and outside by applying natural elements to the interior. In true Wabi-Sabi style, Norm Architects sought to illustrate “the simple beauty of things related to nature.”
In keeping with this concept, materials in earth, stone and wood tones, dotted by green and blue hues found in the handmade ceramics and soft linen feature throughout this calming and restrained home. An emphasis on well-worn and rustic materials ensure a lived-in cosiness that Norm Architects are famed for, while an element of understated luxury keeps this home firmly in the 21st century.
Leaning on a natural palette, everything about this Vienesse apartment by Berlin-based interior designer Annabell Kutucu feels comfortably well-worn and lived-in. Polished concrete floors, mineral-painted cement walls and natural-thatched rugs form the simple foundations for a textural symphony.
Finding a Wabi harmony amongst a mixture of wood, leather and natural linen in deep browns and austere blacks create points of contrast throughout this home. Kutucu beautifully captures a collection of global curios – showing us the balance of curation without cluttering.
One comment on “Best of est | Wabi-Sabi Interiors”
cool! thank you for this story.