What is it about all-but-untranslatable words that makes them so irresistible? First was hygge, next lagom, then kalsarikannit. And now, we’re all about wabi-sabi. The traditional Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi isn’t exactly new, but as a way of looking at home decor, it’s decidedly current in its emphasis on finding beauty in the imperfect and incomplete. This makes it the perfect framework for celebrating the handmade ceramics, knotty woodgrains, homespun knits, and other hand-touched textures having their day.

With the abundance of things like wrinkly washed linen tablecloths and rough-hewn details, it’s no surprise that the word has started coming up more and more. The philosophy not only emphasizes the aesthetic value of imperfection but also directs attention to the transient nature of objects and everything around us. (In fact, wabi-sabi is sometimes called the “art of impermanence.”)

In times when it’s easy to obsess over keeping up with our Facebook friends and there’s never-ending pressure to be a certain way, the ideals of wabi-sabi are a comforting reminder to appreciate the beauty of what exists, as-is.

Reading and working in the silence of a mountain retreat

A post shared by Axel Vervoordt (@axelvervoordt) on

Wabi-sabi as a home trend also dovetails nicely with the recent emphasis on wellness and mindfulness. Appreciating transient items, in the moment, is a good way to stay present. And the pared-down look of wabi-sabi spaces is a breath of fresh air. Naturally, handmade pieces and items from nature are more wabi-sabi-friendly than those that are mass-produced. And we think they’re prettier too!

But one thing that wabi-sabi does have in common with hygge? The love of an unmade, completely cozy bed. Now how’s that for perfectly imperfect?

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