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Why Wabi sabi is in, and the 7 interior designers making it cool in 2022

Minimalism, allow space for your warmer, more natural counterpart: Wabi sabi.

Axel Vervoordt interiors. Wabi sabi.
October 24, 2022
Interiors by Axel Vervoordt

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Wabi sabi is a world view focusing on the acceptance of transience and imperfection in traditional Japanese aesthetics. The aesthetic is sometimes defined as admiring beauty in nature that is "imperfect, ephemeral, and unfinished." It may be found in all kinds of Japanese art.

The interior design style Wabi sabi, is adjacent to this philosophical worldview; it is based on a connection to the land and natural elements, with an emphasis on authenticity. You will notice a few repeated themes amongst Wabi sabi designs: a neutral colour palette, unique pieces of furniture, an emphasis on textured, matte materials and a lack of clutter whenever possible.

In the last few years, interior designers have been leaving behind some of the edgy, clinical versions of minimalist design, some even adopting a more eclectic approach to their interiors. However, for some, maximalist opulence is never an option, and that’s why the rise of Wabi sabi is imminent. 

Wabi sabi is the perfect evolution of minimalism. It is warmer, and more embracing of the perfectly imperfect details in interior design. Designs made with Wabi sabi in mind are much more proficient at feeling cosy and comfortable – something which minimalist interiors struggle with.

Now that we have covered the origin and rise of Wabi sabi in recent years, let’s cover those designers spearheading this movement.

Axel Vervoordt

Axel is an interior designer, architect, gallerist and antiquity collector, world renowned for his calm interiors, filled with unique pieces filled with history. Worldwide, he is recognised for his Wabi sabi approach to design and art.

Lorna de Santos

Lorna de Santos’ Studio was formed in 2017. Their design style is built on the use of clean and raw materials. They consider all aspects of context and tradition within a space, as well as the inhabitants’ senses and physical experience of the materials, furnishings and light.

Sergey Makhno

Makhno Studio and their line of ceramic products have a signature Ukrainian contemporary style, which aligns perfectly in Wabi sabi philosophy in its embrace of natural features, total originality and texture. Love!

September Moore Projects

September Moore Projects renovates and redesigns beautiful traditional spaces in the Mediterranean into calming oases of natural textures. Sometimes in France and sometimes in Mallorca, this account shows what it takes to create beautiful, serene interiors.

Stones & Walls

Since 2009, Stones & Walls has operated as an interior design studio in Athens. It was built on the premise that design impacts people's culture and improves their lives. Their style is Wabi sabi, but with no fear of embracing dark elements and a playful use of platforms and architectural elements.

AEONIC HOTEL<br>Greece

Paulsen & Nilsen

Paulsen & Nilsen was founded in 2009. Mariann Paulsen and Kristine Nilsen, both interior architects, own and run the firm. Their overall style is architectural and leaning towards minimalism. The Wabi sabi element comes in with their use of imperfect wood and the embrace of warmth.

Chan + Eayrs

The approach of young architectural partnership Chan and Eayrs emphasises an overall impression of warmth, tranquillity, and pared-back elegance. To grab the true essence of a space, they often sleep in tents within it, to understand the light and breadth of possibilities it may give. They work one project at a time to give their all every time.

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