Design Theory

Embracing Wabi Sabi

As a Virgo, I feel like I constantly struggle with the need to achieve perfection. From schoolwork as a child to my career as an interior designer now, this desire for perfection is constantly balanced by the reality that perfection is an unreachable goal. 

A few years ago, when I was living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I decided to take a series of pottery classes. I fell in love with everything about working on the wheel as well as crafting clay by hand, but most of all, I fell in love with the imperfection of it all. There was something so freeing about creating individual, unique pieces that were even better because of their flaws. 

This is where the concept of Wabi Sabi comes in. A Japanese concept of aesthetics, Wabi Sabi espouses the appreciation of natural beauty through the realization that everything is imperfect and nothing will last. In the words of Richard Powell, from Wabi Sabi Simple:

Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.
— Richard Powell

Wabi Sabi has woven its way into the world of interiors through the work of numerous designers, but none more famous and well renowned than Axel Vervoordt. Through his minimalist work, Vervoordt creates environments that encourage the viewer to embrace the calming, understated beauty of natural, imperfect, weathered, and timeworn pieces.  

An interior designed by Axel Vervoordt, showcasing the power of Wabi Sabi

An interior designed by Axel Vervoordt, showcasing the power of Wabi Sabi


Vervoordt has an inextricable ability to infuse his spaces with peaceful, simple beauty through the imperfections of wood, stone, and other materials. Rich, textural linen wrinkles gorgeously on slipcovered furniture, fascinatingly unique ceramics are scattered throughout, and raw, unfinished wood brings a warmth into his spaces. These elements are a constant throughout Vervoordt's work, although each space feels completely and entirely unique (another testament to the overarching concept of Wabi Sabi).

For more Wabi Sabi, find more images of interiors from Vervoordt, La Muna (by Oppenheim Architecture + Design), The Natural Home (by Hans Blomquist), and Wabi-Sabi Welcome (by Julie Pointer Adams) in the gallery below, and get inspired!