Aleah's Reviews > The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty

The Wabi-Sabi House by Robyn Griggs Lawrence
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's review
Sep 06, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: home-arts
Read from September 06 to 11, 2011

"Simply put, wabi-sabi is the marriage of the Japanese wabi, meaning humble, and sabi, which connotes beauty in the natural progression of time. Together, the phrase invites us to set aside our pursuit of perfection and learn to appreciate the simple, unaffected beauty of things as they are." -- Robyn Griggs Lawrence, The Wabi-Sabi House

I bought The Wabi-Sabi House 4 or 5 years ago. I remember really enjoying the book but somehow it got put down unfinished, until recently. My current fascination with the philosophy of Taoism brought this book back to mind. I found that many of the ideas I was reading in the books on Taoism mirrored concepts I'd seen in The Wabi-Sabi House all those years ago. So I fished this book back out of the bookshelf and gave it another go, this time getting all the way to the end before it was again tucked away on the shelf.

I'm clearly no wabi-sabi aficionado, but my understanding is that this Japanese aesthetic is rooted in Zen Buddhism. And in my readings on Taoism I did learn that Toaism had an influence on that particular school of Buddhist thought. The concepts of simplicity, humbleness, and appreciation are clearly shared by both philosophies.

This book was very wabi-sabi in its own right. The focus is on home decor from the wabi-sabi perspective, but there are segues into voluntary simplicity, the art of tea, and other connected ideas. Pictures were sparse throughout. I can understand why this was done (it's very wabi-sabi) but would have liked illustrations of the various schools of design that were discussed. Someone without a background in home design (like myself) was a little lost in the sea of name dropping. The only name I recognized was Frank Lloyd Wright, the rest was white noise. But a full list of resources in the back gives websites for further research so I suppose I shouldn't really complain.

And, in any case, after reading this book I found myself looking at the well-loved but aged things in my home a bit differently, with more appreciation and acceptance. I will definitely learn more about wabi-sabi and hope to incorporate it into my home. For these reasons alone I'd gladly recommend this book to anyone interested in paring down and finding the beauty of life as it happens.

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