The Beauty of imperfection
Simplicity. Authenticity. A deep respect for the beauty of natural forms. This is the Japanese aesthetic theory of Wabi-Sabi condensed into a few words. In practice, it is a principle that governs a definition of beauty that does not seek flawlessness. Wabi-Sabi finds pleasure in the imperfect.
Author Richard Powell describes the concept of Wabi-Sabi as something that ‘nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.’
The simplest way to understand the concept of Wabi-Sabi is to imagine a hand-hewn sculpture. Each mark, bubble and flaw contributes to the unique beauty of the object. Compare this to the unsullied surface of an object rendered by a machine whose soul is lost in its potential for reproduction. The faults and imperfections of an object are what lends it its allure.
By choosing natural stone, one must accept imperfection. Gabriele Salvatori describes it thusly: ‘If you choose natural stone, you have to accept imperfection
There are few materials that adhere more closely to the principle of Wabi-Sabi than natural stone.
Unlike machine-made materials, for example, ceramic printed to look like granite or marble, natural stone has a distinct personality that will change and evolve depending on how it is treated, almost as if the stone is alive.
Piero Lissoni perfectly illustrated the philosophy of Wabi-Sabi with his latest work for Salvatori, the Lost Stones collection. Using the Japanese craft technique of Kintsugi, Lissoni took leftover offcuts of natural stone from historic quarries and reimagined them as elegant bistro tables. Where there was a crack in the surface, he sealed it up with gold creating a luminous seam. Rather than dispose of these forgotten pieces of stone, he gave them a second life while honouring their time-won flaws.
Blemishes are not erased or disposed of, they are treasured and highlighted.
By choosing natural stone, one must accept imperfection. Gabriele Salvatori describes it thusly: ‘If you choose natural stone, you have to accept imperfection. Like when a family chooses a new dog as a pet. You can go one of two ways: you can go to a breeder and find a show dog with an impressive pedigree or you can go to the animal shelter and adopt a mutt with a huge capacity to love. Maybe one is more aesthetically perfect, but the second dog will likely bring you more joy.’
Like the principle of Wabi-Sabi, the beauty of natural stone is found in the imperfect and the real.