1.6–1.7 Wabi-Sabi

James Grady
2 min readJun 23, 2012
Macro corner

Wabi-Sabi can be called a comprehensive aesthetic system. The more systematic and clearly defined the components of an aesthetic system are, the more conceptual handles, the more ways it refers back to fundamentals, the more useful it is.

Metaphysical Basis
— Things are either devolving toward, or evolving from nothingness

Spiritual Values
- Truth comes from the observation of nature
— “Greatness” exists in the inconspicuous and overlooked details
— Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness

State of Mind
- Acceptance of the inevitable
— Appreciation of the cosmic order

Moral Precepts
- Get rid of all that is unnecessary
— Focus on the intrinsic and ignore material hierarchy

Material Qualities
- The suggestion of natural process
— Irregular
— Intimate
— Unpretentious
— Earthy
— Murky
— Simple

Wabi-Sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace. — Leonard Koren

1.7 Aesthetics
These Wabi-Sabi principles are a guiding light in terms of how I approach seeing and experiencing my environment. Ultimately my inspiration comes from what I see and accumulate from my surroundings. I do this as much as I can to make up for what I don’t know. Since there is so much knowledge that I crave, it’s nice to know there are endless points of inspiration. As novelist William Burroughs asserts, “What I want to do is to learn to see more what’s out there, to look outside, to achieve as far as possible a complete awareness of surroundings.”

Originally published at http://jamesjgrady.com on June 23, 2012.



James Grady

Principal, Design Axl & Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, Boston University