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