Biographies, philosophy, design, recipes, and all the subjects in-between are the stuff of my dreams. I would venture to say that I’ve found a treasure beginning with most library call numbers, and, of course, do my best not to judge any book by its cover. To say my love affair with reading is an important part of my life would be an understatement.

Our library at The Factory and the stacks of books throughout my home are growing at alarming (and satisfying) rates. I wish that time allowed me to discuss in detail all of the fabulous books that my friends, supporters, and my publisher have chosen to share with me. Robyn Griggs Lawrence’s Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House recently landed on my desk. The simple, unassuming (wabi-sabi) cover almost went unnoticed in the big stack of books I’ve been eager to conquer.

Pushed to the side, it took me a month to open the pages and find a lovely hand-written note from Robyn referring me to page 55 where I found a short piece written about me!

Once I sat down to learn about wabi-sabi, I couldn’t stop reading. Although I had never heard the term “wabi-sabi,” I have read the book from cover to cover, enjoying the calm and quiet wisdom of each chapter. This is a book I will keep on my reading stack for a year – revisiting when I feel stressed or tired.

“Far more than home decor, wabi-sabi is a state of mind: living modestly in the moment, stripping away the unnecessary and finding satisfaction in everyday things. Simply Imperfect recounts wabi-sabi’s rich history, tracing it from its Zen Buddhist roots through to the present day.”

In the process of cleaning up my diet, I had already started to detoxify my home and clear it of the clutter that builds with daily life (and a 5 year old). The book reveals ways to infuse wabi-sabi into your home by clearing clutter, blocking noise and slowing down.

Robyn took inspiration from Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren, and spent years exploring the concept through work, home and life. (I have taken wabi-sabi one step further and am now working through Koren’s book as well.)

From the introduction to Koren’s book:

“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.”

I am proud that Robyn was kind enough to mention Alabama Chanin in her lovely book. I do agree that we are very wabi-sabi – and have been for a long, long time – I just didn’t know to describe our company in that way. Thank you Robyn!

We plan to explore Wabi Sabi in posts over the next weeks – seeking for ways to add wabi-sabi to our life, wardrobe and visual vocabulary! Keep your eyes open for more wabi-sabi, some tips from Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House, and an interview with Robyn. She also has a lovely Wabi-Sabi Wednesday at Mother Earth News that feature excerpts from the book and a Facebook page you can “like” for more good wabi-sabi.

Antique Kimonos (beautifully wabi-sabi) via 2 or 3 Things (also beautifully wabi-sabi)

Feel free to post comments or pictures about the places you find Wabi Sabi in your own life.

7 comments on “WABI-SABI

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  1. Rebecca West

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve put the book (and a couple others) on my to buy list. I’d never even heard of wabi sabi. Thank you also for the lovely links to mother earth news and the jane goodall video.

  2. Lisa Klotz

    I now need to get a second job to afford my book collection! Isnt it funny how things sometimes just present themselves when they are most needed….isnt life magical? Cant wait to experience it, thanks for sharing.

  3. Robyn Griggs Lawrence

    Wow! This post makes my day…week…year! I’ve admired Alabama Chanin, for the beauty it brings to the world and its dedication to community and local culture, for so many years. To become a tiny part of that is such an honor. Natalie, thank you! I’m thrilled to introduce you to wabi-sabi, as you truly epitomize it. Wabi love to the Alabama Chanin community!

  4. Leanne Gillespie

    Learning about wabi sabi years ago set me free to begin to understand why I was attracted to the imperfect. Once a teacher told me that imperfection was the mark of a handmade piece and I began to look for and appreciate these imperfections. What freedom! What joy just to love things just as they, and we are.

  5. Edward Gaines

    Thanks for the beautiful article and photos. This particular Wabi-Sabi is, I believe Boro, the mending of clothing.