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Embracing Wabi Sabi into your interiors in 2021

No matter what happens, 2021 is set to be a fascinating year as we see changes in our home and working lives and, rejuvenating our homes to suit the current mood.

Across the world many of us have embraced elements of the popular tradition of ‘Wabi Sabi’ by incorporating the Japanese aesthetic for rustic minimalism into our lives through fashion, art and interiors to create a more stress-free environment.

It’s a common thread throughout the interiors world – one of turning our homes into a haven like retreat – somewhere to relax in a calming space, that is attractive to many of us after the ups and downs of 2020.

So what really is Wabi Sabi and how can we apply this to our home interiors?

Wabi Sabi is more than just a style, it is an age-old tradition.

Emerging in the 15th century as a reaction to the prevailing aesthetic of lavishness, ornamentation, and rich materials, Wabi Sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all. A tradition that is deeply ingrained in the Japanese way of life. (Ref: R Griggs Lawrence, Natural Home)

The words Wabi and Sabi (much like the Danish hygge or even gezelligheid in Dutch) don’t directly translate into English. 

"Wabi" evokes a fresh, rustic simplicity, and peace, either in the natural world around us or in objects we make or own. 

"Sabi" celebrates the gracefulness of age, when an object we own, for example, gains a patina, visible wear, or even noticeable repairs.

Designing a space that imbues the Wabi Sabi style does not require any specialist training however, nor does it require a lot of money. It’s about accepting and appreciating the character of things you might normally dismiss. Things without ornamentation as opposed to perfection. You don’t have to understand why you’re drawn to something, but you do have to accept it as it is.

It’s a calm soft colour palette, more often than not earthy dusty tones which are the ideal backdrop for a minimalist, uncluttered space. Bright colours are kept at bay.

Colour trend-watchers everywhere agree that earthy colours are a big crowd-pleaser moving into 2021 (don’t fret there are colourful hues too), and it’s these simple yet intimate shades that epitomise Wabi Sabi interiors.   

See the Dulux Colour Forecast 2021 for more on these shades.

Textured, worn-in style

Imagine Wabi Sabi as your favourite leather boots, bought from an artisan years ago and still going strong today – they are soft and worn yet exude an inherent quality as a hand-crafted product.  They have ingrained texture and substance in their form. 

 “Textured items make a home feel more approachable. The more texture you have in a space, the more you feel like you can live in it.” - Alison Davin, the founder and principal of San Francisco–based design firm Jute. 

In our own home interiors we can emphasise this lived in look through layering and texture, and have come up with some quick tips to help create your own Wabi Sabi look and feel:

  • Leave unfinished concrete floors and ceilings
  • Expose rough timbers and brick
  • Savour frayed carpet edges
  • Incorporate irregular shapes in anything from cushions to plates, the more organic looking the better
  • Buy a second-hand piece of patinaed furniture over sleek new shiny pieces.
  • Add some weaving in the form of boho wall art tapestries sculptural cane baskets and macramé. 
  • Shop with an eye for tactile and lush piles such as boucle and velvets.
  • Reduce the clutter
  • Add interesting foliage
  • Celebrate the cracks, crevices and rot and all the other signs that time, weather and overuse bring us.

We have put together a selection of our top curtain an upholstery fabrics suitable for use in a Wabi Sabi inspired interior scheme as below. For more on creating a cocooning interior with rustic elements see our additional article here.

Photography by Laziz Hamani, from Axel Vervoordt’s Wabi Inspirations

Photography by Laziz Hamani, from Axel Vervoordt’s Wabi Inspirations

In our own homes, we can accentuate this ‘much loved and worn’ feel through layering and texture, and have come up with some very unofficial rules when it comes to wabi-sabi interiors.

In our own homes, we can accentuate this ‘much loved and worn’ feel through layering and texture, and have come up with some very unofficial rules when it comes to wabi-sabi interiors.

Distinguished from the Luxuria collection | Zepel

Distinguished from the Luxuria collection | Zepel

Umbra & Corona from the Eclipse Collection | Zepel 

Umbra & Corona from the Eclipse Collection | Zepel 

Gent | Zepel & Lassen from the Grandland Collection

Gent | Zepel & Lassen from the Grandland Collection

Momentus from the Luxuria Collection | Zepel

Momentus from the Luxuria Collection | Zepel

Have you noticed that the web is full of ‘one trick’ wonders for cleaning pretty much everything in your home? From baking soda to rid carpet stains, grapefruit to clean your bath, and vinegar for bad odours, there is a home remedy for any occasion. 

We all like natural products, but sometimes things are taken a bit too far and it is hard to know what actually does and doesn’t work.

It is due to this (unscientific) information that we are frequently asked about using different cleaning hacks on our stain-resistant fabrics, especially when it comes to FibreGuard sofa fabrics. 

In this article we will cover some key questions relating to the cleaning of your FibreGuard fabric.