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Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers Paperback – November 1, 2008
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"In a prominent spot near Square's welcome lobby stands a communal bookshelf. . . Most titles lining the shelves cover subjects you might expect at a high-flying tech startup. . . And then there are books placed on the shelf by [Twitter and Square co-founder Jack] Dorsey. He offers up Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers --an explication of the Japanese concept of serendipitous beauty." -The Wall Street Journal
"Indeed, you could say that Koren has spearheaded the design equivalent of the slow food movement." -The New York Times
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The essence of Wabi-Sabi is that true beauty, whether it comes from an object, architecture or visual art, doesn't reveal itself until the winds of time have had their say. A cracked pot, for example, has an essence that a perfectly round pot is lacking. Beauty is in the cracks, the worn spots, and the imperfect lines.
As a graphic designer, Wabi-Sabi is the antithesis of what I pursue every day -- perfection in my typography, layout, tight invisible Swiss inspired gridlines, etc. Mathematical symmetry is an unshakeable mission for many in my profession, and the ancient philosophies of Wabi-Sabi rip a hole in the side of it.
I enjoy owning the book as a reminder that nothing in life, or design, is perfect. The very essence of life, work, art and nature is free of right angles, and chaos reigns supreme.
However, I feel something should be mentioned. This is a book primarily about appreciating wabi-sabi (about finding it or seeing it out in the world), not so much about creating it. Koren describes wabi-sabi almost as a result of karma, or at least as a process in which the artist/designer has little impact. You can perhaps record it, but there's very little direct discussion of how to create wabi-sabi objects yourself (other than mention of sweaters made with randomly placed holes).
This certainly doesn't take away from the book or reduce its value to artists and designers (seeing wabi-sabi and appreciating it is key to understanding, which in turn helps you use the concepts in your own work). I just feel the book's title is a bit misleading.
What I would like to see (because I feel it is lacking in this book) is ideas on how artists might cultivate mistakes and accidents. Or take advantage of time and wear-n-tear. Or how artists use becoming/decaying metaphors. Just in general I would like to see more on wabi-sabi as it applies to the creation of things, rather than the appreciation of wabi-sabi in things that already exist.
So this is a great book, but I think there's another great book on this subject that needs to be made.
We have become a society producing perishable goods, much of which has little or no merit. Mr. Koren opens our eyes to the merit of producing goods which earn dignity with age, use and wear. It is truly an aesthetic for our time.
It is a must for people directly involved with tea and Japanese aesthetics. It is a clear spring of sweet water that will quench the thirst of everyone. It is a source of inspiration, that can be integrated into any culture and be actively expressed in your own life style.
Read it and feel inspired to do something great and good, not only for yourself, but for all you know, for nature and our common future on this earth.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It inspired a knitting project that expressed my take on wabi-sabi.Published 2 days ago by lyda davis
A moving book, very serious. Gives one an understanding of Wabi-Sabi, which is difficult to describe, let alone grasp on a deep level. Read morePublished 9 days ago by ModemmeX
A solid reminder that exactly what you're trying to create--in whatever manner--will not be complete until something about that process or result is imperfect. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Graehound