Wabi-sabi: ONE BOOK
This new section will review books on the topic of wabi-sabi.

Lawrence, Robyn Griggs: The Wabi-sabi House: the Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2004.

Lawrence's book is a fine introduction to a subtle complex of thought and practice. For anyone short of an artist, poet, or philosopher, wabi-sabi is next best applied to one's dwelling. It certainly need not be a house -- one can start small, even a room at a time.

For most people, the dwelling is where we spend most of our lives, our personal and solitary lives, as opposed to work, schooling, public places, or the homes of others. Our dwellings are containers, the context of our potential and present deportment, a revelation of our values.

Lawrence's book is a conversation between the curious reader conscious of the need to make spirit and surrounds match. The book is an offering by a congenial designer with a careful eye. Intellectuality is not a foundation for aesthetics, and the book helpfully concentrates on the visual, tactile, and practical.

The author has a knack for moving us from a lack of conscious living to awareness, from clutter to "unclutter." Nothing is heavy-handed or laborious, in keeping with the values to be expressed. Every few pages have sections set aside for practical tips on materials, furnishings, textures, and arrangements. Lawrence focuses on what most projects itself in our dwellings, what makes an intrusive versus subtle presence, and how to go about amending the loud, modern, and mechanized.

Rather than concentrating on an extended discussion of wabi-sabi elements, Lawrence offers examples, especially a very useful table that can correspond nicely with the more technical table elsewhere on the Hermitary website. The book's many photos are set in a sepia tone befitting examples of wabi-sabi.

wabi-sabi is ... wabi-sabi isn't ...
dry leaves cherry blossoms
bare branches floral arrangements
handmade machine made
weathered wood plastic laminate
crumbling stone polished marble
wildflowers roses
wool polyester
rice paper plate glass
clay china
unbleached cotton cashmere
tea latte
vintage designer
cobblestones concrete
adobe steel
arts and crafts rococo
flea markets warehouse stores
salvaged made to order
burlap velvet
oil finish polyurethane
recycled glass crystal
native landscaping kentucky bluegrass
natural linoleum vinyl
hemp silk
clean cluttered
frank lloyd wright ludwig mies van der rohe
natural plaster drywall
natural light fluorescent light
clotheslines electric dryers
handmixers food processors
rust dirt