bring tourThe annual BRING Home and Garden Tour provides inspiration and ideas for simple living. We want to demonstrate that simple is beautiful, that imperfection can be something to find peace with rather than fighting. The concept of wabi-sabi is a perfect fit with that.

We hope you’ll learn more about the Japanese philosophy by reading this article, and we look forward to seeing you at this year’s BRING Home and Garden Tour on Sunday, September 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $14 at the door. The tour will feature seven green homes, two organic gardens and one new business that emphasized reuse when designing its new facility. Get a preview of each property here. Buy your tickets on our website or at Down To Earth, Lane Forest Products or the Planet Improvement Center. We also hope to see you at Hot Mama’s Kitchen + Bar, 23 Oakway Center, for the tour afterparty.

What is wabi-sabi and how does one go about living in this way?

Wabi-sabi, the art of finding beauty in imperfection, emerged in the 15th century as a reaction to the lavishness, ornamentation, and use of rich materials that was popular during the time. In Japan, the concept is deeply ingrained and it is difficult to translate to Westerners.

In broad terms wabi-sabi is flea markets, not high-end boutiques; aged wood, not glossy finishes; a chipped cup instead of a new one. Understated, natural materials, and items that are cracked and used, are all wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi values simplicity, uncluttered, understated, and modest surroundings. Authenticity is key to the philosophy and the aesthetic: the presence of cracks and frayed edges are considered to be symbolic of the passing of time, and should be embraced.

For example; In Japan, broken pottery is mended instead of thrown away. Kintsugi or kintsukuroi, is a centuries old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with gold, silver, or platinum colored lacquer. Beautiful seams of gold fill in the cracks, giving a unique appearance to the piece, one that celebrates and emphasizes the fractures and breaks instead of hiding them. Kintsugi often enhances the repaired item making it more beautiful for having been broken.

When it comes to creating a wabi-sabi home it doesn’t require money or a set of special skills. Wabi-sabi living inspires minimalism that focuses more on the people who live in the space than anything else. Possessions and other items are pared down to the essentials based on utility, beauty, and emotional connection. The idea is to live modestly, and learn to be satisfied with life once the unnecessary is stripped away.

Collections of wabi-sabi possessions are well curated. They are continually pared down to those that earn their place. What makes the cut?

1) Useful things: Tools, essential kitchen utensils, and even a personal computer. The idea here isn’t to live without, rather to live with less and with things that are used regularly.

2) Loved things; Your grandmother’s quilt, a rickety chair from your childhood home or a piece of art from a recent vacation are all things that offer memories or nostalgia. If you love it, keep it.

3) Quality things, built to last:  Quality over quantity is the key to wabi-sabi. Choose high quality goods that are made to stand the test of time. Items that grow in their character when lovingly used.

Wabi-sabi is both an aesthetic and a state of mind.  It encourages us to find the beauty in what exists and, to be at peace with the natural processes of life and with the eventual decay and deterioration that comes from use. Wabi-sabi also teaches us the impermanence of all things and requires us to shift our thinking to appreciating rather than perfecting.


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