Mother Earth Living

The Good Life

All things Mother Earth Living

Add to My MSN

Wabi-Sabi Wednesday: An Architect's Perspective

5/11/2011 12:00:00 AM

Tags: wabi-sabi, Wabi-Sabi Wednesday, Simply Imperfect, San Francisco, California, architecture

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailEvery philosophy spawns multiple interpretations. The more I study wabi-sabi, the ancient Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and impermanence, the more I see that it lends itself to a wealth of definitions and delineations, and each layer gives the thinking depth. Andre Rothblatt, a San Francisco residential architect, interprets the wabi-sabi philosophy in his designs by simplifying spaces to reveal the beauty of their natural essence.

“Wabi-sabi can be roughly translated as ‘rustic,’ but it is as difficult to define as the word ‘music,’” Rothblatt says. “Wabi-sabi is a concept that guides one’s perception to find great beauty in the poetry of simple objects and an appreciation for how the effects of time and forces of nature can enhance the beauty of objects.”

Rothblatt says wabi-sabi can be as simple as crackling leaves in autumn, a chip in a vase, or an aged piece of driftwood. But, he points to the first line of the Tao Te Ching, which states, “The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao.” The same is true with wabi-sabi, he says. “It requires contemplation, meditation and then silence to get a better understanding.”

“What wabi-sabi looks like in my work can best be described as simplicity,” Rothblatt explains. “I engineer each space with craftsmanship and employ natural materials such as wood to create a holistic environment that’s not cookie-cutter or slick. It’s my hope that my designs feel comfortable, natural and warm. People describe my work as restrained and simple, even boring, but to me there’s a purity to stripping down a space to its bare essence, eschewing ornamentation and leaving what is needed and meaningful.”

rothblatt bedroom 

Andrew Rothblatt designed this bedroom as a place where simplicity creates a serene and peaceful ambiance. The wood beams and ceiling add warmth. Photo by Ken Gutmaker 

rothblatt stair 

In this design, Rothblatt’s Tansu inspired stairs feature contrasting wood tones. Photo by Ken Gutmaker 

rothblatt niches 

Rothblatt added asymmetric illuminated niches as visual interest on a stair landing. Photo by Marija Vidal 

Related Content

The Healing Kitchen DVD: Remedies from Nature’s Pharmacy

Bring Andrea Candee’s Healing Kitchen workshop to you and take charge of your wellness naturally.

What is Wabi-Sabi? Pictures Tell the Story

Wabi-sabi is wildflowers, not roses; weathered wood, not plastic laminate; native landscaping, not K...

How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack (And Live to Blog About it)

When you write for a blog called The Garden Gnome, you tend to get a lot of wacky things many of tha...

Mother Earth News Radio: Make Simple Pasta

I offer instructions on how to make a very basic pasta.

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.