web wabi sabi
Digital communication is often awesome, in the true sense of the word: lightning fast, interactive, hyperlinked and suited for a mind boggling array of delivery devices. But it can be cold. Thus, we offer a brief meditation on what we call “web wabi sabi” – that little touch of idiosyncrasy that suggests the tactile, imperfect and ephemeral.
Wabi Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic concept difficult to translate in western languages. But Japanese art offers wonderful examples of wabi sabi at work – the slightly assymetrical, rough-hewn vase, the somewhat imperfect glaze, or just an assemblage of natural elements, presented unadorned in an otherwise finished interior. The architect Tadao Ando describes the Japanese aesthetic as a way of life “that grew stronger as inessentials were eliminated and trimmed away.”
There are many different ways to translate the words “wabi” and “sabi” but most attempts suggest that “wabi” has to do with harmony, tranquility and balance, while “sabi” suggests the mark of time and a certain pleasure in things that are old and faded.
It takes restraint and discipline to know when to leave something ever so slightly unfinished in a way that is visually and intellectually satisfying rather than just annoying. We use “web wabi sabi” as a mantra to help us remember to eliminate clutter, create room for chance, value the beauty of the old as well as the new, and always strive for authenticity.