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Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  4,140 ratings  ·  304 reviews
Describes the principles of wabi-sabi, a Japanese aesthetic associated with Japanese tea ceremonies and based on the belief that true beauty comes from imperfection and incompletion, through text and photographs.
Paperback, 95 pages
Published 1994 by Stone Bridge Press
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Thad Absolutely. I enjoy the satirical comments as well. I believe wabi sabi, in much the same way as teaism, requires laughing at yourself.

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4.02  · 
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 ·  4,140 ratings  ·  304 reviews


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Darwin8u
Jul 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Some books are one-day reads, one-sitting reads, etc. This book was a one-bath read.

description

Our bath has lost almost all its enamel. It scratches my bum. Very Wabi-Sabi. My phone has a crack I refuse to fix. I like to slide my finger along smooth glass of the phone and feel the rupture. Very Wabi-Sabi. As I read this book I thought of a couple things. First, myself. I AM Wabi-Sabi. One only needs watch me bathe, swim, run, walk, sit, type, etc., to realize I am asymmetrical, scarred, broken, fixed, and
...more
Zanna
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Koren wastes no time in this concise text, briefly tracing the roots of wabi-sabi, the history of its obfuscation, and then laying out its qualities and principles with maximum clarity. Beautiful photographs accompany the delicately printed text and Koren provides an illuminating comparison with modernism, a masterful linguistic analysis, and many hints on where to look for wabi-sabi in the contemporary world.

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetics, difficult to describe clearly, perhaps because it i
...more
Bruce
Jan 14, 2017 added it
This modest but charming book explores the Japanese Zen aesthetic Wabi-Sabi. It is a concept almost unable to be clearly articulated rather than intuited, and the book reflects this accurately. It is so different from the classical Greco Roman esthetic common to the Western world as to be puzzling to those not from the East. Nevertheless, it complements that perspective perfectly, creating alternative and creative ways of viewing reality. I found the book provocative and fascinating.
Clara
Apr 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've had this book on my shelf for years. My impetus to take it off the shelf was a photography class I signed up for recently that's using it as a textbook. I'm sorry I waited so long. It's a wonderful book that addresses wabi-sabi not only as an aesthetic but as a cultural movement, tracing its origins to Zen Buddhism and to the rituals of the Japanese tea ceremony. Ironically, although its roots are firmly planted in Japan, wabi-sabi is less present there today as a design aesthetic than in o ...more
Adam Graffunder
Jan 21, 2008 rated it liked it
I borrowed this book from my roommate and took it on a day hike. I removed it from my backpack on the drive home and realized that the top right corner of the front cover had gotten folded over and smashed during the hike, and there was a worn-off spot on the bottom of the front cover, and another lightly abraded spot on the back cover. The whole top right corner of the book actually had a brownish smooshed-ness to it.

I was a little embarrassed, as the book had been completely new when I started
...more
Kent Winward
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Wabi-sabi is exactly about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get from freedom from things."

Already, I'm liking wabi-sabi over simple minimalism. Minimalism neglects the fact that we live in a world of things and other beings.

"Their nicks, chips, bruises, scars, dents, peeling, and other forms of attrition are a testament to histories of use and misuse." I read that quote and it made me wonder, why we don't use wabi-sabi to see the beauty in people
...more
Tameca
Mar 04, 2009 rated it liked it
I believe this to be a key to the text and a key to Wabi-sabi generally:

"Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness. Wabi-sabi is ambivalent about separating beauty from non-beauty or ugliness. The beauty of wabi-sabi is in one respect, the condition of coming to terms with what you consider ugly. Wabi-sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty i
...more
shadylike
Jul 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Broad and unfocused next to Andrew Juniper's Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence. Ironically enough, the introductory sections were pretty pretentious. I wish he just got to the meat of things instead of hailing himself as the sole savior/consolidator of the elusive wabi-sabi philosophy.
Kevin Rutherford
Jun 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful little book about the Japanese art style called Wabi-sabi. The book is short, and many of the pages consist solely of full-page photographs illustrating the ideas. So it's a quick read, but worth taking the time to read slowly, let it sink in, and then read again.

Wabi-sabi itself originated as an eclectic style of the Japanese tea ceremony, emphasising the impermanence and ever-changing quality of all things. But the book keeps its feet on the ground and doesn't spend too muc
...more
Anatoly
Jul 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I've always been fascinated with Japan`s history and culture, so when this short book was recommended to me I decided to read it although this type of book is usually not my cup of tea. This was a pleasant and an interesting read and was actually very enriching. ...more
Jane
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Wabi-sabi is, according to Koren's slim book, "a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete"; "a beauty of things modest and humble"; and "a beauty of things unconventional." True to this centuries-old Japanese aesthetic, Koren makes his prose unfancy and quiet, yet nevertheless deeply affecting. The book, too -- its rough paper and grainy photographs -- has a handmade quality to it that displays the very qualities that Koren explores. Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & P ...more
Erik Carter
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
my goodreads reciews are wabi sabi becuase they embrace the imperfections and say nothing
Barbara
Jun 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Sweet little book but don't get how it's for poets and writers.
Nathan
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design, nonfiction
A solid book on the concept of wabi-sabi. A brief history on its origins and an explanation of the concept that feels inline with the principles. I was hesitant that a book so short would superficially deal with the topic. I feel as though I got the value I was seeking from this book though.

The binding and presentation are appropriate to the topic. The book feels good in the hand, and the text perfect for reading and turning pages at calm pace. Small elements that reinforce the authors attentio
...more
Taka
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
Not a how-to book.

I picked up this book just because I'm embarrassingly ignorant about the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi. In a way, this book is the epitome of wabi-sabi: large font, very short chapters, wabi-sabi photographs interspersed throughout, all in a slim volume that probably takes a few hours to read. The problem with it for me, however, is that I was expecting a more rigorous, analytical treatment of the aesthetic concept (a là Donald Keene's essay on Japanese aesthetics), but alas,
...more
Sienna
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Something about the lace-like fragility of that leaf on the cover and its raw sienna backdrop, that varied but strangely unified target audience: I saw this at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and barely glanced at the contents before deciding to take it home, a gift for my husband that I couldn't resist reading first.

Wabi-sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, c
...more
Ron
Jan 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: real-book
I expected a book about the beauty of wabi-sabi, hoping to be immersed in a deep spiritual appreciation of the imperfect and impermanent. And Koren does eventually describe the spiritual and moral values of wabi-sabi. However, this is by no means a spiritual book. Instead, this is a primer, a technical manual about aesthetic guidelines. This short book would have been a fine article in an architecture magazine. But the title is misleading: this is not a book for artists and poets, unless they're ...more
Janie
Feb 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Wabi-sabi is the grassy smell of my sweat as I step into a bath after three hours of shoveling snow. Wabi-sabi is the battered shovel I found on the island, in the cellar of my blind landlord's cottage. Wabi-sabi is the steam that escaped the bathroom, shrouding the windows and softening further the gray winter light. Wabi-sabi is the raw ache in my muscles after such labor that tells me I am alive.
Dominika
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have read this twice, first time it was just simple enjoyment of word orders and ideas, second time creating my own map of mind, making sense in all of this, still loving it the same way. It's a book for basically anyone who is trying to make sense in this world in general, mentally and maybe metaphysically. Finding beauty in uglyness, living simple life, knowing what is imporant. Go and read for yourself.
Johnny Cordova
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A slim book and quick read on the Japanese aesthetic principle of wabi-sabi. An eye-opener for me, as I've long heard the term tossed around in conversation, but never really knew what it meant. Helped me understand why I've always been drawn to things that are raw, worn, or otherwise imperfect. Contains interesting commentary on the evolution of Japanese tea ceremony.
Jessica
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this concept, but neither this book nor this author.
Christopher
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite possibly one of the most enlightening books I've read in many years. Very short. Time well spent.
Quiver
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: a-english, t-art
This is the third book that I chose to read on my mini-quest to investigate Japanese Aesthetics. The first two are Donald Richie’s  A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics (basic overview of the cultural background couched in philosophical terms of the West) and Jun'ichirō Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows (insightful lyrical prose from a Japanese master novelist).

Unlike with Richie’s wide scope, and Tanizaki’s poetic soul, Koren has a more direct goal he states at the beginning of the book:
I have att
...more
Corey
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Summary:
This book explores the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi which is somewhat of an aesthetic philosophy. The book demonstrates how difficult it is to accurately describe wabi-sabi or to ascribe the characteristic of wabi-sabi to something, but broadly describes it as "a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional."

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in examining the finer points in lif
...more
Krijnenbeebie
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
I would highly recommend everyone to go read 'In praise of Shadows' instead.
Lucie
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Wabi-Sabi is the Japanese concept of beauty in the imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. This was refined in the tea ceremony but can also be applied to the whole of life. This is a very slim volume, but leaves the reader with a great deal to think about.
Kristen
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finally a name to an idea that I have been in love with I really enjoy reading about philosophy and aesthetics and also really enjoy learning more about Japan, a country I quite like.
Cody
Clear prose and vibrant ideas housed in a lovely monograph.
Marissa Morrison
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Good, brief overview of the wabi-sabi mindset, moral precepts and material qualities. I think that I like wabi-sabi.
Edith
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
A concise little book on an incredible but simple philosophy of living and aesthetics.
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine Two Editions 2 15 Dec 17, 2017 01:03AM  

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“Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness. Wabi-sabi is ambivalent about separating beauty from non-beauty or ugliness. The beauty of wabi-sabi is in one respect, the condition of coming to terms with what you consider ugly. Wabi-sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace.” 36 likes
“Pare down to the essence, but don't remove the poetry.” 26 likes
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