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Wabi Sabi

Sophisticated but simple decoration

In one of the most representative streets of Barcelona’s Eixample we find this stately apartment, whose renovation was commissioned by Circular Studio.

The sophisticated but simple decoration reflects many of the wabisabi principles, like natural woods, few but chosen decorative elements, earth colors, natural fabrics… all combined with a great selection of iconic furniture and accessories from the 20th century design.

In the living room, a pair of Brigitte sofás from Blasco & Blasco, both with linen covers. Neutral tones dominate the decoration with touches in black. Alanda coffee table is a design by Paolo Piva. Carpets by Nani Marquina.

In this working área, also with a simple decoration but full of interest, highlights a BKF chair (or Butterfly chair). Throughout the house we can see a wonderfull collection of designer chairs.

In this angle of the living room, we can see the care taken in the selection of lamps. On the wall two lamps 265 designed by Paolo Rizzatto for Flos. On the sides of the sofa, Cesta lamp on the table and TMM floor lamp, both by Miguel Milá, edited by Santa & Cole.

In the living room, another icon of modern design. Lounge Chair with matching Ottoman, a creation of Charles and Ray Eames in the 50’s, manufactured by Vitra.

Photos: Eugeni Pons



Wabi Sabi Lesson #3 | Decalogue of Wabi Sabi Decoration

Everyone has a wabigokoro, a wabi mind and heart, says an expert in the field, the architect Tadao Ando. He recommends to develop our wabigokoro and improve our home with some tips wabi sabi: living without ostentation, learning to be happy with our life, enjoying the moment and taking off everything we don’t need…

If we apply our wabigokoro to our house we get as a result an austere yet sophisticated style. Actually it has been the Western public with more sophisticated artistic and design tastes the first to fall in love with wabi sabi. Actually the western public with the most sophisticated artistic and design tastes were the first to fall in love with wabisabi.

In previous posts we explained that wabi sabi is a way of life, rather than a look. But it is true that, when decorating, some tips help to reflect the key attributes of this philosophy: asymmetry, irregularity, simplicity, modesty, privacy, natural looking…

To develop our decorative wabigokoro, we have prepared these 10 commandments:

  1. You shall highlight the old elements. Objects with patina add charm and excitement to the houses. They can be objects from family heritage, treasures founded in flea markets or auction houses. Or parts of the house, such as handmade bricks or old exposed beams.


  1. You shall choose materials that improve over time, such as leather, linen, wool … Nobody doubts the beauty of the worn leather armchairs, antique kilims, washing linen… Natural wear is the key to the wabi sabi concept. What will be the favorite materials of a wabibito (wabi person)? Think of those vulnerable to weathering, warping, shrinkage or cracking. And you will be right.

wabisabifoto2Vía: Velvet & Linen

  1. You shall avoid synthetic materials. Look for natural and organic materials. A wooden floor (and even better aged), not a Pergo laminate flooring. Lamps tracing paper, not of glass or steel. The wabibito seeking natural and irregular textures, shapes and organic motifs, which are in stone, wood, natural fabrics such as linen … In this regard, preferred furniture has irregular edges as unfinished and imperfect forms.

natural-tree-stump-side-table-cFoto: West Elm

  1. You shall honor ceramics. Definitely one of the favorite wabibito materials. In fact, the origins of the doctrine wabi sabi, in the fourteenth century, is the decision of a handful of Japanese monks who changed luxurious Chinese porcelain for simple local pottery utensils, while they simplified the tea ceremony making it more simple and relaxed. Today, ceramics is present in every wabi sabi house, from the floor tiles to the utensils and ornaments, such as dishes, bowls, ornaments, antique vases …
  1. You shall seek out horizontal lines. Choose simple and modern furnishings, with scant ornamentation and based on horizontal lines: large sofas, wall units… All this creates the illusion of more space and order, a key of wabi sabi philosophy.

wabisabifoto4Via: Arkpad

  1. You shall love the colors of Nature. Of course, as wabi sabi is not exactly a decorating style, it is difficult to say with certainty what colors to use to create a color scheme. Nature helps us again. Combine neutral colors with colors drawn from nature: black, grey, green … Actually, any color can serve if you avoid bright colors and choose those that look aged, washed, even rusty.


  1. You shall love asymmetry. Nothing reflects the natural balance as asymmetry. If we follow our wabigokoro, we avoid to use furniture “groups” and we look for unique and individual pieces, mixing styles and finishes to achieve unique, unconventional spaces.

wabisabifoto6Via: Funksjonelt

  1. You shall look after things. In a wabi sabi house there is nothing dirty or unkempt. Things worn by time can only shine in care environments. Even the most exclusive and expensive antiques don’t look good in a messy, chaotic house. Objects survive and look proud its marks of time, precisely because they have been well maintained over the years.

MG_6578blasco-navePhoto: Sofa and linen, Blasco & Blasco and B&B Collection.

  1. You shall not fall into the cold minimalism. Although wabi sabi is in some way an expression of minimalism, it’s not in the Western sense. Wabi sabi proposes us to cut our possessions to stay only with the essential, useful or beautiful. But aesthetically it’s not cold, it’s very emotional.
  1. You shall create a home to celebrate life, full of tranquility and beauty. Listen to your wabigokoro: When you choose simplicity, you choose happiness… If you love your house, that love will shine in every room.


Wabi Sabi: Lesson #2 | Wabi Sabi Philosophy at Home

Searching pictures for this post, I feel that wabi sabi means for many people something like a rustic-Japanese-decrepit-style. Actually as we said in another post this is a doctrine.

wabisabi21Via: Pinterest

Wabi sabi has a lot to do with things and attitudes that sure you have seen in your grandmothers homes, if you are from the generation whose grandmothers lived the postwar period. Personally I remember two things: a chopping wood, worn and absolutely wonderful after decades of use, and a simple table cloth of gingham, washing a thousand of times, with a modest hemstitched edging that maked it unique in the world.

How can you make your house a wabi sabi home?

There is no better decoration for a wabi sabi lover than light and space. We must resist “horror vacui”, that fear of emptiness that leads us to fill everything. Avoid accumulating objects with arguments like “It’s a wedding present” or “It was very expensive” or “Perhaps I will need it in the future”… This does not mean that wabi sabi decor is monkish, but you have to “edit” your home.


Make things earn the space they occupy. Retain just only what brings you good memories, regardless of their economic value, or that with an special value.

Do you have too much of this kind? Once again there is an ancient Japanese practice that comes to your aid: Tokonoma, a doctrine that proposes the rotation of the “treasures” you have, for example according to the seasons. Show this chandeliers heritage of your grandmother in Winter, and in Spring these vases for flowers brought from a trip.

You stand out just a few special things, rather than saturating the house with decorations. In addition, when things rotate you should be excited to see them again. Of course, you need a storage room to put things, but it will not be necessary to throw them away or undershell in wallapop.

Enjoy the natural beauty, choose designs with colors, patterns and textures from Nature. Garnish with untreated wood furniture, use natural wood or mud floors, choose fabrics such as linen, cotton or jute.

Even easier: add organic life with fresh flowers, plants, bowls of fruits… That lends color and freshness to any room. Or bring nature home, a way to decorate that connects us with the planet and it’s free: pine cones, twigs, shells, stones …

wabisabi23Vía: Poetic Home

Remember that wabi sabi loves natural wear of things, with its cracks and imperfections, as they form their own history and reflect the natural passage of time. Never polish, restore or customize objects.

Artworks reflect how we are, so avoid the “serial” art purchased in chain stores… Look for beautiful, unconventional and original things that make your home unique. Actually you don’t need to buy expensive art. Think DIY (do it yourself) can serve as our own potos, vintage or family works…

In a wabi sabi house there is a space (or more) dedicated to relax, read, listen to music or just enjoy the silence. TV always on is enemy of a wabi sabi space… Silence gives us balance and harmony. Can you imagine trying to find your inner voice hearing the dishwasher or cars honking on the street?

To minimize noise you can add good curtains, quality windows, bookshelves, upholstered furniture and carpets…

wabisabi244Blasco & Blasco

A curiosity: wabi sabi philosophy and its quiet way of life was already present in theories of such influential architects and designers as William Morris, Frank Lloyd Wright or Charles & Ray Eame. They already though about the open spaces, simplity.

Some dust is not bad, or some toys in the living room or dishes in the sink occasionally. Real people don’t live in houses as you see in magazines. In fact, wabi sabi considers more genuine houses with real people in them.

However, clean and tidy things seem calm. Cleanliness is a sign of respect for the people who live in the house and for the guests. Clutter is the enemy of clarity, not only physicall, but also mental.

The Key to success is in the daily maintenance, not in big marathons cleaning sessions once. Regarding order, it is best to go slowly, not to try to arrange the entire house. In case of doubt, throw it away or give it to an NGO…

wabisabi25Via: One Kings Lane

When you buy something new, choose only useful things for you or your family and good quality ítems. They will last longer and make your day more comfortable. Not always high technology is the best option, sometimes a simple tool is more practical than a full-featured gadget. And whenever you buy, follow this last wabi sabi tip: throw something away.

Finally, here you have a link that shows wabi sabi house does not have to look like an abandoned zen sanctuary… I hope you like it!