I like to collect words. Sometimes they are English, but more often or not, a concept or word from another culture speaks to me like a lightning bolt, hitting on something I haven’t really had the ability to understand in English.

I will be writing about a few of these in upcoming posts, but the first one that I came across i wanted to share with you is as beautiful and simple as its definition.


It’s a word I came through by the route of a design magazine called Wallpaper (article here). I have had an increased interest and appreciation for Japanese culture and design recently and this word captured one aspect of it’s beauty and depth.

In the 'wabi room' at Vervoordt's castle, 'Yuboku II', by Kazuo Shiraga, 1989. Photography: Frederik Vercruysse

In the 'wabi room' at Vervoordt's castle, 'Yuboku II', by Kazuo Shiraga, 1989. Photography: Frederik Vercruysse

Now that I know Wabi-Sabi, I see it everywhere.

Wabi: rustic simplicity, freshness or quietness, and can be applied to both natural and human-made objects, or understated elegance. It can also refer to quirks and anomalies arising from the process of construction, which add uniqueness and elegance to the object.

Sabi: beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs. (source)

Leonard Koren puts it this way:

"Wabi-Sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, the antithesis of our classical Western notion of beauty as something perfect, enduring, and monumental."   - Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers

How incredibly beautiful. This is not just an aesthetic I love, but a worldview that speaks to my life and work deeply.

This concept speaks directly to what I think most people are longing for and longing to bring to the table.


The imperfections, the quirks, the wear and tear on your life is kind of what makes it beautiful. Be careful not to iron out all your wrinkles and oddities, lest you lose your wabi-sabi.

We ask this all the time with our clients. What makes you, you? What makes your idea, business, or life one that is unique? It’s why we named the company “We Are Curio.” A curio is a something odd, one-of-a-kind, interesting, or rare. We help pull that out of you, help you leave your individual mark in your work.

So here’s to our imperfections, our wabi-sabi, our “curio-ness.”

It’s what makes you, you.

P.S.: We just built a our content cottage with Wabi in mind. And it is becoming our little sanctuary for ideas. Check it out!