Wabi sabi: the Zen of things

Wabi Sabi is like the Zen of things, a Japanese aesthetic and philosophical criterion. It intertwines the spiritual, aesthetic, and philosophical elements into daily gestures, residing within a special object that feeds and nurtures our day, akin to a dance. For us, coming from beauty models like Egyptian abstract, Greek ideals of justice and beauty, or the Renaissance’s symmetry centered on man, Wabi Sabi represents a Copernican revolution in aesthetics.

Wabi Sabi signifies awareness of the eternal flow and change in every aspect of existence, thus confirming the uniqueness of each moment. This concept is rooted in millennia of Japanese contemplation, where beauty is seen as transformation through countless stages, dynamic and purposeless: it simply exists, an ever-changing absolute.

Emphasizing impermanence, the idea that everything flows (a concept within Buddhism) leads to contemplation. The essence of beauty lies in the Living, that which is alive and transforms, intertwining with the everyday in a sweet and melancholic dialogue.

The message of Wabi Sabi remains relevant, both today and in Japan’s distant 13th century. Its aesthetic and philosophical criteria allow Wabi Sabi to straddle philosophy, aesthetics, art, and design, yet always maintaining a strong connection with the object and material.

Wabi Sabi can encompass everything but finds its best expression in ceramics. The challenge in precisely defining the concept of Wabi Sabi aligns with its profound meaning, encompassing life’s great laws, the wisdom of silence, and the courage to leave undeciphered what cannot be deciphered.

The terms ‘wabi’ and ‘sabi’ have accumulated meanings over time, and the fondness for a certain level of ambiguity has enabled the Japanese to avoid unequivocal definitions. Love for material, formal purity, imperfection, awareness of life’s constant flow, melancholy, and joy, all in balance: perhaps these are some facets of Wabi Sabi.

In ceramics, Wabi Sabi reflects warm colors, clean forms, and the tactile pleasure of surfaces. Decoration yields to the material, which speaks for itself, containing the message within, waiting to be heard. Glazes naturally adhere to the surface, forming a motif. Abandoning concepts like symmetry and uniformity opens broader horizons in artistic expression.

Disassociating beauty from the idea of perfection, viewing what’s beautiful as something encompassing transformation, appreciating beauty in what’s simple and natural does wonders for the soul, allowing it to finally breathe. The secret of living beauty lies in the ebb and flow of things. Beauty to be enjoyed here and now, perhaps while sipping tea from a special cup…

P.S: In the East, the cup is considered the artist’s soul: by observing it, one can understand who created it.


Hi, I’m Manuela, urban potter and Italian artist who’s passionate about exploring the expressive potential of clay. With a love for Wabi Sabi aesthetics and the beauty of imperfection, I create bespoke ceramics, paintings, and fine art photography. My studio, nestled in the charming city of Milan, is a magical box where creativity runs wild and beauty is abundant. Whether you’re looking to bring a touch of magic into your everyday life, or simply to explore your creative side through art therapy I’m here to inspire and encourage you on your journey. I bring art into the world and celebrate the beauty in every moment. This blog is my Artistic Salad, filled with creativity, beauty, joie de vivre, passion and tools for creative minds.

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