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Wabi-Sabi

Find it in Cayman

Wabi-sabi is all about embracing imperfection. One of the hottest interior trends of the past few years, wabi-sabi celebrates simplicity, natural tones and materials, and the beauty inherent in old, time-worn objects. Maybe it’s a reaction to our throwaway culture, our constant need to stay ahead of fashion, and our tendency to fill our homes with endless shiny, glossy objects, but wabi-sabi is not new.

Rooted in Zen Buddhism, the concept dates back to 12th century Japan, where it emerged as both a philosophy and an anaesthetic. It’s a blend of two ideas – Wabi and Sabi – that together add up to a different worldview.

Wabi refers to austerity, purity and a connection with nature. It’s about being content with less and recognising that what you want is not the same as what you need.

Sabi is the acceptance that all things in life are transient, that nothing stays the same, and that the scars of time enhance rather than detract from an object’s beauty.

Wabi-sabi rejects the relentless pursuit of perfection and focuses on what might be and promotes the acceptance of the here and now, however imperfect that may be.

Wabi-sabi design
When applied to design, wabi-sabi is about simplicity and economy. It’s about carefully curated collections where every piece has a purpose. It’s minimalist in the sense of paring possessions down to the essentials, but not in the sense of clean lines, sleek surfaces and geometric shapes. Wabi-sabi embraces asymmetry, rough edges and the nicks, cracks and scratches that treasured objects acquire over time.

Of course, you don’t have to embrace the whole philosophy of wabi-sabi to achieve the muted sense of calm it provides. Applying wabi-sabi to the home is about taking away more than adding.

Simplify and minimise
Do away with things that have no purpose. Eliminate the clutter so that what remains is there for a reason. When selecting homewares, choose pieces that are simple and have minimal ornamentation, but leave plenty of negative space to allow each to shine. Aim to ensure every object has both function and beauty.

Find it on-island:
• The LEGO Series sofa from Kun Design features a crisp, unembellished design suitable for indoors or outdoors – available from A Squared Away Cayman.
• The sculptural form of the Vent Bench demands its own space to be fully appreciated – available from Label C.

Natural Colours and Materials
There’s no place for plastic in wabi-sabi. Because it embraces nature, time and transience, choose natural materials – wood, stone, ceramic, linen – that are not only durable and sustainable but will age well over time.

Find it on-island:
Ethnicraft wooden furniture made from oak and teak will last a lifetime, subtly changing in colour and gaining a patina over time – available from Living.ky.
Cultiver Linens woven from the fibres of the flax plant are an environmentally-friendly choice that is cool and breathable and gets softer with every wash – available from Label C.

Asymmetrical and irregular
Wabi-sabi is all about finding joy in imperfection, so don’t get hung up on creating perfect balance and symmetry. Odd, uneven shapes are at home in this aesthetic.

Find it on-island:
• The textured, bark-like sides and roughly rounded form of the Camilla Fossilised Clam Coffee Table ticks all the perfect imperfection boxes – available from Design Studio.
• With smoked oak shelves supported by an asymmetric set of bars, the Daphane Bookcase is ideal for displaying curated curios – available from IDG.

Artisanal and Antique
Imperfect, handmade items are regarded more highly than fault-free, mass-produced ones, and antiques that bear the scars of time are preferable to all things shiny and new. Keep those that have a history or choose ones that are artisanal rather than factory-made. 

Find it on-island:
• With organic forms, a matte finish and the look of stoneware, Fortessa tableware adds a personal, intimate tone to any tabletop – available from Bon Vivant.
• Distressed and well-weathered, the Carine Accent Mirror reflects all the values of wabi-sabi – available from Ashley Furniture Homestore.


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