The Wabi-Sabi House : The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty

 The Wabi-Sabi House : The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty - Photo 

By Robyn Griggs Lawrence
Clarkson Potter, $25
There are no photos of perfectly appointed, expensively furnished rooms in The Wabi-Sabi House. In fact, there are no color pictures at all but rather duotones that rightfully set the serene tone of this special book. If your idea of beauty is the simp...more


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    By Robyn Griggs Lawrence Clarkson Potter, $25 There are no photos of perfectly appointed, expensively furnished rooms in The Wabi-Sabi House. In fact, there are no color pictures at all but rather duotones that rightfully set the serene tone of this special book. If your idea of beauty is the simple, unaffected brand, then you won’t need to see pictures to grasp the meaning of this home design philosophy, a marriage of the Japanese wabi, meaning “humble,” and sabi, which connotes beauty in the natural progression of time. It is dry leaves, not cherry blossoms; Arts and Crafts, not rococo; clotheslines, not electric dryers. Griggs Lawrence, the editor in chief of Natural Home, a magazine devoted to helping readers create healthy, serene abodes and lifestyles, was turned on to wabi-sabi when she met a woman in rural Maine who had been practicing it for years. It moved her to do research in Japan, where most of the people she met suggested Americans would never “get” it. But Griggs Lawrence distills the concept in ways that we can understand and employ: On space, she draws up a list of practical ways to manage clutter, including, “Allow only three items on each surface,” and “Just say no to refrigerator magnets.” In the “Hands On” chapter, in which Griggs Lawrence explains the Japanese admiration for the rustic, primitive and handmade, she includes instruction on how to make a mosaic with broken tiles—very wabi-sabi in its inherent imperfection. There are plenty of attractions along the narrative way, with sidebars on what to stock in your cleaning cupboard, how to soundproof the space around you and a list of things a beginner can do—one is to wash the dishes by hand one day each week—to immediately implement wabi-sabi at home. An excellent list of sources for creating a wabi-sabi environment is included.

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