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

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  3,270 Ratings  ·  244 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 July 1st 1998 by Stone Bridge Press (first published 1994)
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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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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.


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
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
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
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.
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
วะบิ ซะบิ สำหรับศิลปิน นักออกแบบ กวี & นักปรัชญา โดย เลนนารด โคเรน แปลโดย กรินทร กลินขจร สนพ.สวนเงินมีมา

เลมนีอานไมงายเลยคะ เปนงานเขียนเกียวกับวะบิซะบิเลมแรกทีเคยอาน จึงยังรูสึกงงๆ หลายสวน แตเราวาเปนเลมทีวางรากฐานและทำใหเขาใจวะบิซะบิไดดีคะ พออธิบายวะบิซะบิแบบเปรียบเทียบกับโมเดิรนนิสม ความงามอยางอลังการแบบจีน และแบบมินิมัล ทำใหเขาใจไดงายขึนคะ

ปล. พึงเหนเลมนีพิมพใหมกับสนพ. openbooks (เม.ย. 2018) ตัวเลมของจริงสวยมากกกกกกกกก บ.ก.ดูแลตนฉบับเรืองภาษาทีใชแปลอีกรอบหนึงดวยคะ คิดวานาจะอานงายขึนกวาฉบับที
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Jun 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Sweet little book but don't get how it's for poets and writers.
Erik Carter
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
my goodreads reciews are wabi sabi becuase they embrace the imperfections and say nothing
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
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,
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
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
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.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Príjemné jednoduché čítanie, také intelektualizovanie niečoho neuchopiteľného. Myšlienky buď oslovia alebo nie. Dve, ktoré mi najviac utkveli, si tu odložím...

Jednoduchost wabi-sabi je patrně nejlépe popsána jako stav milosti, k němuž jsme došli střídmou, prostou a upřímnou inteligencí. Hlavní strategii této inteligence je úspora prostředků. Jdi k věci, ale nezbav se přitom poezie. Chovej věci v čistotě, ale nesterilizuj.

Wabi-sabi bylo pro mně přirozeným estetickým paradigmatem, které navracelo
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.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this concept, but neither this book nor this author.
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.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
A concise little book on an incredible but simple philosophy of living and aesthetics.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
An easy-to-read introduction to the mindset of wabi-sabi.

Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

It is a beauty of things modest and humble.

It is a beauty of things unconventional.

"Those who know don't say; those who say don't know."

Aesthetic obscurantism: fostering the myth of inscrutability for aesthetic reasons. Some critics think wabi-sabi needs to maintain its mysterious and elusive qualities because ineffability is part of its specialness.

Originally the Japan
Jan 25, 2012 rated it liked it
in dealing with a concept that has no name in english, we often rifle through metaphors, trying to convey the essence or relation of a thing. not uncommon is the borrowed catch-all je ne c'est quoi. wabi sabi, like je ne c'est quoi, is the name of one of those things that we can understand but in english have as yet seen no need to name.

koren has set out to write a basic introduction to the concept and in doing so has largely spent time rifling through metaphors and adjectives, trying to convey
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, architecture
Wabi-sabi is a philosophy on the aesthetics from a different angle. Originating in Japan in the 16th-century, wabi-sabi seeks the beauty of things imperfect. Leonard Koren provides a tremendous insight on the essence of wabi-sabi from its infancy to present time in a book no less wabi-sabi than the philosophy itself.
As the author states "wabi-sabi is the radical departure from the Chinese perfection and gorgeousness" comparing it to modernism and its radical departure from 19th-century classism
Nov 13, 2012 added it

This is a short little book about the aesthetic idea of wabi-sabi, an artistic aesthetic most strongly associated with classic Japanese tea ceremonies. The most concise description of wabi-sabi in the book might be "zen buddhism in physical objects" (not an exact quote). It's an idea that finds beauty in imperfect found objects, in process, in ephemeral impressions that can't be communicated through words.

A book, as the author acknowledges, is probably not the best way to get this i
Feb 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: artists, architects, designers, writers
Shelves: own, 2011, non-fiction
a great little book. a look into the elusive japanese aesthetic. the language is very easy to understand and enjoy. as the author states, putting wabi-sabi into words is almost antithetical to its nature, and thus quite difficult to effectively achieve. however, my belief is that the author does so in a very effective and sympathetic (to wabi-sabi) way. the photographs throughout the book are wonderful and very beguiling and inspiring and complimentary to the subject matter. it is this sort of p ...more
Jul 21, 2012 rated it liked it
The concept of Wabi-Sabi is profound, if you are a follower of Zen. It's beauty in the imperfect, nature's design.

The book has it's moments, particularly the chapter on spiritual values of Wabi-Sabi, page 48.

All things are Impermanent. Everything wears down, even the planets and the stars. So too does reputation, status, memories, and art.
All things are Imperfect. Every artist knows the flaws of his work.
All things are incomplete. The universe, and ourselves, are in a constant state of becoming
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine Two Editions 2 14 Dec 17, 2017 01:03AM  
  • Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence
  • A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics
  • The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight Into Beauty
  • White
  • Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life
  • In Praise of Shadows
  • The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty
  • Japanese Prints
  • Design as Art
  • Japanese Art
  • The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life
  • The Elements of Color
  • Everyday Harumi
  • The Poetics of Space
  • Shaping Things
  • As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender, and Art
  • Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy
  • Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change

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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.” 32 likes
“Pare down to the essence, but don't remove the poetry.” 21 likes
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