Feng Shui Tips

Get only the best tips, news, and advice from the world of feng shui. Get a helping hand in what can be an otherwise complicated and confusing way of life (as opposed to harmonized and balanced which it should be) - feng shui!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Wabi-Sabi, Feng Shui Killer?

Scotsman.com News - Features - It's not shabby ... it's wabi-sabi: "It's not shabby ... it's wabi-sabi


IS IT A MARTIAL art? Is it a new type of exotic food? It certainly sounds like it, but no, wabi-sabi is in fact the latest interior designer craze to hit Britain. Touted as 'the new feng shui', this ancient Japanese philosophy is about to turn decorating on its head.

While there is no strict definition for the word (even the Japanese have difficulty explaining it) the phrase is a combination of the word 'wabi' meaning 'humble,' and 'sabi', which can be translated as 'the bloom of time'. It is the art of finding beauty in things that are imperfect. It reveres the authentic, the original and the natural.

But what does this actually mean for our homes? Well, it's out with the hi-tech kitchen appliances and IKEA flat-packs, and in with hand-made clay mugs and second-hand furniture. Rustic is good, polished is bad. New is pass�, old is in.

Ever since celebrity gossip bible People magazine listed wabi-sabi on its list of hot trends in 2003, the great and good of Hollywood have been flocking to flea markets and antique stores. But it's not just for A-listers. Robyn Griggs Lawrence has brought wabi-sabi to the masses with her book The Wabi Sabi House. The editor in chief of America's glossy Natural Home & Gardens magazine, Griggs Lawrence's book helps Westerners apply the concept to their own homes, containing as it does a helpful wabi-sabi check list: Wabi-sabi is bare branches, wabi-sabi isn't floral arrangements. Wabi-sabi is crumbling stone, wabi-sabi isn't marble.

There is more to wabi-sabi than a set of interior design rules, however. Influenced by Zen Buddhism with its rejection of the need for material wealth and its appreciation of the simple things in life, wabi-sabi is more concept-driven than its predecessors. Rather than rushing to install a fish tank, or moving around their bedroom furniture, followers simply subscribe to the general principles.

"It is not about rules, it is a mind set," explains Griggs Lawrence. "Wabi-sabi contains ideas we seem to long for today: Slow down. Take the time to find beauty in what seems ordinary - and to turn the 'ordinary' into something beautiful."

It has come at a good time. This year Brits are turning their backs on designer boutiques in favour of the cheap and cheerful Primark brand, and are more likely to stay at home rather than hang out in trendy wine bars. The frugality and restraint of wabi-sabi is hitting the right notes with consumers looking to lead a less conspicuous lifestyle. It is also a welcome change from the stainless steel homogeneity of the 1990s.

"Wabi-sabi is all about letting go of the need to live in a show home and being happy with the way it is," she says. "In today's society the house has become a burden not a joy. Weekends are spent doing chores and there is this feeling that if you don't have the perfect dining set you're not measuring up. But your home should be a haven. Wabi-sabi can help you turn your home into a happy and nurturing environment where you can feel at peace."

So if you are tired of the manufactured and mass-produced, it's time to embrace the chipped, the cracked and the crumbling. Take Griggs Lawrence's advice on how to inject some wabi-sabi into your home.

1 Look on the bright side

It is easy to focus on the bad paint job in the living room or the cracks in the ceiling, but this is all part of the individual make-up of your house and should be accepted as such. Remember wabi-sabi is all about appreciating the authentic and not longing for perfection.

"As long as we dwell on our home's negative aspects, we will never find peace," says Griggs Lawrence in her book. "The first step in creating a wabi-sabi home that nurtures the soul is simply an attitude adjustment. Instead of focusing on all that's wrong in your home make a serious attempt to find everything's that's good. You can even go so far as making a list of all your home's positive points; I suspect you'll be surprised to find that they far outweigh its detriments."

2 Enjoy some peace and quiet

In wabi-sabi silence is golden and Griggs Lawrence encourages home-owners to give their houses the 'wabi-sabi quiet treatment'.

"We pay so much attention to aesthetics in the home that we forget the importance of calm and peace in our lives," she says. "Wabi-sabi has a more holistic perspective and focuses on what we hear as well as what we see. We don't realise how noisy our lives are."

To introduce the sound of silence into everyday life lay rugs over wooden floors, hang heavy curtains and put up book shelves. These minimise the noise reverberating around each room so you no longer struggle to hear your thoughts above the din.

3 Get some space

"Do you have a space in your home you can call your own?" asks Griggs Lawrence. If the answer is 'no' she argues that it is essential to find one.

"You need to have space to go and hide," she says. "You need to spend time being still and quiet every day. By doing this you will learn how to relate to yourself and your surroundings. You will become clam and more focused throughout your day and appreciate the smaller things in life rather than rushing around manically."

4 Drink tea wabi-sabi style

Few people have four hours in their day to recreate the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, but turning the routine into an art form and finding beauty in the mundane is worth learning. Griggs Lawrence says it is time to stop drinking out of crappy corporate-sponsored mugs and sipping your tea on the run. Instead sit down and enjoy your brew in a cup that brings you pleasure.

"A home-made mug has a solidity to it that feels good in your hands," she says. "Appreciate the mug and the work that went into it. Be conscious of what you are drinking. This will open up your sensitivity to everything around you."

5 Take a walk in the woods

Appreciate nature by bringing the outside in. Lawrence suggests placing a bunch of freshly picked flowers in your kitchen or putting a small branch in your hallway. Place them somewhere you will see them and admire them every day.

"This helps you to be aware of the natural world and be more conscious of the seasons. In our culture where children can identify logos more easily than they can types of trees we need to reconnect with nature."

6 Go to a flea market

Wabi-sabi places importance on items that have stood the test of time rather than the brand new, and celebrates the chips, the cracks and tarnish of an individual piece of furniture rather than the perfectly polished.

"Things that are truly old have a soul," says Griggs Lawrence. "In the East they say objects that have survived over time have a special vibration and give your home a nice feel."

In this way wabi-sabi takes time and patience or a wealthy stock of family heirlooms. However you can help the process by going to a flea market or second-hand shop. Mix and match styles and looks and buy only the things that you love. Griggs Lawrence advises shoppers to look out for antique wooden chests, old teapots, as well as pewter and pottery.

• The Wabi-sabi House by Robyn Griggs Lawrence (£13.10, Clarkson N Potter)"

Lost for words..... post your thoughts!

Sam, Feng Shui Tips


Post a Comment

<< Home