Wabi-sabi is often used to describe the Japanese context which lies behind the art. A quick google search would disclose to us the real meaning of wabi-sabi, plus finding its roots from the Zen teachings that are all about appreciating the perfection in imperfection. Wabi comes from the root word ‘wa,’ referring to harmony, peace, tranquillity and balance. 

On the other hand, Sabi means ‘bloom of time’. It refers to the effect of time on an object. Japanese Architect Tadao Ando describes wabi sabi as an art of finding aesthetics in the forgotten realm and accepting the natural cycle of growth and decay.

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Wabi sabi inspired living room_©https_visualartideas.com_design_wabi-sabi-interior-design.php

Though Historians mention that the tea house would be a perfect example for wabi-sabi, Sen no Rikyū, one of Japan’s earliest known tea Masters has seen the need for simplicity and changed the way of perceiving the rich tea ceremony. Be it expensive possessions or simplicity; Wabi-sabi is all about not just simplicity but a way of a modest life. This 15th-century Japanese trend has given a big blast to the lavish going interior design trends that depend on heavy ornamentation and a non-eco-friendly lifestyle.


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Wabi sabi inspired dining room_©https_www.architectureartdesigns.com_decor-trending-for-a-wabi-sabi-dining-room_

The fundamental principle of wabi-sabi for interiors is authenticity, which is utilising the connection between the earth and its resources. In a nutshell, it means to opt for originally manufactured materials rather than mass-produced ones. One can also try adding things from the flea market, craft shows and independent shops that can be alternatives for the hunt for authentic pieces. 

Apart from seeking authenticity, wabi-sabi also chooses nature to embrace the imperfect phenomena of the world. To amplify the usage of natural elements, wabi-sabi focuses on raw textures, earthy hues and organic and natural materials. The art of achieving Wabi-Sabi, in accordance with Wijaya and Zen teachings is distilled into seven key elements and which can be followed by one in their approach towards interiors. They are namely:

  1. Kanso – simplicity
  2. Fukinsei – asymmetry or irregularity
  3. Shibumi –  beauty in the understated
  4. Shizen – naturalness without pretence
  5. Yugen – subtle grace
  6. Datsuzoku – freeness
  7. Seijaku – tranquillity

Tips to go with the trend


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Colour trends_©https_www.pinterest.jp_cafeveyafe__created

Colours are often tricky at times; Wabi-sabi interiors centre on soft blues, greens and shades of taupe and grey, to make a serene atmosphere. Alternatively, plants like bamboo and rattan will be handy in aligning themselves with the wooden textures and colours.

Wabi-sabi always focuses on uncompromising things which you bring to your home to reflect your inner self. This style doesn’t reflect any of the trends, because the main aim is to bring joy to the person who uses it. Relatively, wabi-sabi allows oneself to be quirky and go for his passion in choosing whatever décor they want to.

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Book shelf_©Johanna Ekmark

Don’t be afraid to reuse, as wabi-sabi is a concept that encourages a sustainable approach to home décor. When buying things, we want to ensure that they last long, thus by not replacing items that are outgrown of their purpose, rather giving them a new purpose relying on our creativity is the ultimate goal.

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Interiors with nature_©Kojoandlee

Wabi-sabi architecture appreciates nature’s aura and thanks to the concept of the biophilic interior that is ideal in working with this décor. While biophilic designs focus on introducing natural elements such as natural lighting, forest aromatherapy, abundant plants, purified indoor air, thus respecting all the ideas put forward, wabi-sabi works with ideas partially or fully depending on the need. Through Biophilic designs, we can also create green and healthy kitchen spaces at one’s home.

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Wabi Sabi Apartment_s living room_©Andrey Avdeenko

While taking a look at choosing our finishes, brass, copper and bronze with uneven patina can give a pleasing appearance. Wabi-sabi’s true nature is rustic simplicity. The natural stone and pinewood can add rustic textures to space. For instance, the natural texture of the wood will go well with a satin finish as its best upon light reflection.

Metal finishes such as brass, copper and bronze with an uneven patina have always been pleasing to the add-in. If one would prefer to go for that worn out look, they can indeed buy specialised kits that are available to replicate the exact metal hardware look. A distressed glaze of uneven paint finish can add rustic simplicity to the interior décor. 

An additional charm can be added to the kitchen cabinets or tables with paintwork that fades along the edges. Open storage and shelving are a perfect match, which adds in the essence of devotion and realness to the place.

Here is an amazing example of Wabi Sabi you can look upto:

Wabi Sabi Apartment by Sergey Makhno

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Wabi Sabi Apartment_s living room_©Andrey Avdeenko

The Ukrainian Architect, Sergey Makhno has designed his penthouse with a fusion of tying together both the Japanese aesthetics and also his native traditional styles of his country in the stunning penthouse. The two-storey apartment portrays an interior look which is a complete contrast to the skyscrapers outside. All the walls have been finished with clay in a technique of old Ukrainian houses, while rough wooden beams in the ceilings and doorways are other rustic references to space.  

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Wabi Sabi Apartment_s kitchen and stairs_©Andrey Avdeenko

Despite the rural look, the apartment is equipped with contemporary amenities. The wabi-sabi apartment has its experimental touches featuring the Architect’s lighting and furniture design. The main intent was to add a conceptual approach to the overall design, based on the theory of four elements: the earth is represented as clay on walls, fire and water being symbolised through artworks, while space between rooms symbolises the air. 

Bonsai trees and a small roof garden are a bit of a Japanese touch to the apartment. Traditional woven mats, sculptures and Makhno’s metal lampshade hung in the dining area and bedrooms adds the contemporary rustic look.

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Wabi Sabi Apartment_s interior_©Andrey Avdeenko

The imperfections demonstrate how the ancient philosophies of wabi-sabi can find its route through new approaches in contemporary design, indeed making us appreciate the beauty of handmade objects through the usage of natural materials.

Wabi-sabi can become an ideal escape route from the potentially stressful world we live in.


Abaya, M. R. (2021, July 22). The Perfectly Imperfect Concept Of Wabi Sabi Architecture. BluPrint. https://bluprint.onemega.com/the-concept-of-wabi-sabi-architecture/

Avokado, A. (2021, March 29). Wabi sabi philosophy and its use in interior design. Biofilico Wellbeing Interiors. https://biofilico.com/news/2019/11/7/wabi-sabi-philosophy-and-its-use-in-interior-design

Imperfection is Beautiful: the Wabi Sabi Apartment by Sergey Makhno in Kiev, Ukraine. (2017, May 15). Yatzer. https://www.yatzer.com/wabi-sabi-apartment-sergey-makhno

  1. (2020a, April 10). The Wabi-Sabi Aesthetic Seeking Beauty in Imperfection. MY PICK ONE. https://www.mypickone.com/2020/01/26/the-wabi-sabi-aesthetic-seeking-beauty-in-imperfection/

Prakriti is an Architecture graduate from MCE, Chennai. She is an enthusiastic person and is passionate towards writing perspectives that are profound and narrative. She gets fascinated by Tadao Ando’s minimalistic approach and loves to explore new avenues of architecture in a sustainable manner.

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