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What the Wabi-Sabi!?

What the Wabi-Sabi!?

What is Wabi-Sabi, and what does it have to do with furniture? 

According to Wikipedia Wabi-Sabi is “A world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection…Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, roughness, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenious integrity of natural objects and processes.” 

In a design context, Wabi-sabi for the home means to embrace imperfection and the transient nature of all things on earth. It is the exact opposite of all things produced with perfect uniformity of both color and texture. It’s the antithesis of big box retailers of mass-produced furniture. It embraces and encourages you to see all things, especially imperfect things, for its own unique beauty. 

Natural textures, natural materials, and goods that have been minimally processed are all reflections of the wabi-sabi philosophy. A good example in the world of furniture would be using reclaimed lumber to make your new table. Another example would be not staining your furniture piece, but simply using a sealer that offers protection while allowing the natural color of the wood to shine through. It discourages uniformity and embraces the acceptance of things in their natural state.

Farmhouse Country Buffet

One of the benefits of making your furniture purchase from The Amish House is we provide those who embrace this design aesthetic the opportunity to have their furniture made in a way that showcases the natural beauty of the wood by allowing its natural characteristics to shine through, and there are many ways to do this.

Using Ambrosia Maple (also known as Wormy Maple) in its natural state would be an example of the wabi-sabi design philosophy in practice. Ambrosia Maple is commonly referred to as ‘wormy maple’ in the lumber industry. This is because its appearance is caused by the Ambrosia beetle that carries a fungus on its legs that creates a discoloration in the wood, while leaving small holes due to the beetle boring through the living wood.

For years, this condition meant that the Ambrosia Maple sold for far less than its Hard Maple relative. However, in today's climate, this wood pattern is now highly desired by furniture makers and demand has increased significantly driving up cost.

Ambrosia Maple with natural color patterns created by the Ambrosia Beetle

It’s also possible to marry the wabi-sabi philosophy to a more contemporary design by blending the two aesthetics. The Amish House Hamilton style writing desk features a natural ‘live edge’ on the desk with a contemporary metal base. This mash of styles creates a unique furniture piece that blends the modern with the natural.

Hamilton Writing Desk with Live Edge and Metal Frame Base

In the end, as my father used to say, ‘To each his own’. But whatever your design heart desires, you have choices with The Amish House. We pride ourselves on making furniture in the wood and stain of your choice. And whether you prefer it wabi-style, rustic, rough, or sleek and modern, we make the furniture for you, using your choices. No mass production for us. We do it the old fashioned way, made to order, high quality and made just for you.


The Amish House