Wabi-Sabi: The 2018 Design Trend All about Embracing Imperfection

Wabi-Sabi: The 2018 Design Trend All about Embracing Imperfection

March 01, 2018


Count us in for the Japanese art of being imperfectly perfect

In the age of overly-curated Instagrams, it can seem impossible (and exhausting) to keep up with @thejoneses. We’re busy, we’re not perfect, we’re ok with that. And that’s why we’re so drawn to the idea of “beauty in imperfection” espoused by wabi-sabi enthusiasts.

What is wabi-sabi?

A historically Japanese movement, “wabi” connotes rustic simplicity, natural elements, and a less-is-more mentality. “Sabi” translates as “taking pleasure in the imperfect” and celebrates the beauty that comes with age, like patina and wear.

So how does this translate to home design?

According to Elle Décor, wabi-sabi means emphasizing the use of organic materials, pieces made with innate imperfections, and embracing authenticity, even if that means it's a little off-kilter. Think: hand-crafted pottery, wrinkled linen sheets, wood furniture with uneven grains, and artfully mismatched picture frames. 

How to “do” wabi-sabi:

Embrace the Un-Done

Great news for people who hate ironing sheets. Forget crisp hospital corners and opt for “artfully mussed” linen sheets on a loosely made bed for a lived-in look. Casually toss your throw blanket across the bed and sit back to admire your advanced design skills. 

The Inspo:

Photo credit: @stylingbolaget

Get the look:

Shop it: Allswell Double Hemmed Linen Euro Sham ($70), Allswell Double Hemmed Linen Duvet Cover ($350 for Full/Queen), Allswell Cotton Waffle Weave Coverlet ($300 for Full/Queen)


Think Organic

Bring in natural elements to your space, with a focus on woods, stone, clay, and plant life. Fans of this look include actress and entrepreneur, Jessica Alba, who told Us Weekly that she swears by the Japanese philosophy. She explains, “I am an earthy and tactile person—I enjoy and embrace the imperfections of real life." She uses "real wood or anything with a natural touch" in her home because these items are "the most beautiful" to her.

The Inspo:

Wabi-Sabi_Organic_1_Athena Calderone

Photo credit: Allswell Home shot of Athena Calderone’s home
WabiSabi_Organic_2_Scandinavian Homes - Photo credit: Scandinavian Homes via Freshome
Photo credit: Scandinavian Homes via Freshome

Get the Look:

WabiSabi_Organic_3_TOV Furniture DresserShop it: TOV Furniture Bushwick Dresser at Hayneedle ($704)


WabiSabi_Organic_4_Decmode Teak Bowl
Shop it: Decmode Teak Bowl at Hayneedle ($43)


Organic_5_Syndicate Geometric Terrarium
Shop it: Syndicate Home Geometric Terrarium at Hayneedle ($60)


Go Artfully Asymmetric

Permission to embrace off-balance. To achieve wabi-sabi, My Domaine advises avoiding symmetry and to style accessories in odd numbers. Julie Pointer-Adams, a wabi-sabi expert and author of Welcome Wabi-Sabi, encourages an unfussy and relaxed approach to focus on warmth, ease, and comfort.

The Inspo:

Photo Credits: Julie Pointer-Adams from her book, Welcome Wabi-Sabi

Photo Credits: Julie Pointer-Adams from her book, Welcome Wabi-Sabi, available here


Get the look:

WabiSabi_Asymmetric_3_Allswell pillows

Shop it: Allswell Cotton Printed Rectangular Pillow in Indigo ($70), Allswell Cotton Textured Pillow in Marigold ($54)
WabiSabi_Asymmetric_4_Arteriors Home Darby End Table
Shop it: Arteriors Home Darby End Table at Hayneedle ($702)
WbiSabi_Asymmetric_5_Mercer Large Recycled Glass Vase
Shop it: Mercer Large Recycled Glass Vase at Hayneedle ($102)


And last but not least, just relax. As Etsy's in-house trend expert, Dayna Isom Johnson told Elle Décor, “Keep it real, be authentic, and be happy that for once you don’t have to make your bed to be cool.” (But making your bed is still cool, too.)