Wabi Sabi: embracing the imperfections

All my renovations are imperfect. It’s not the money, or the obvious head scratching decisions of previous owners, though those contribute to much of the chagrin one experiences. It’s more than that. Even if the home were new, and all the decisions that contributed to its construction were mine – I am not perfect, so it would not be.

Old and worn, torn and tattered…historic and lovely.

My friend Julie sent me an email saying she’d heard about this concept – Wabi Sabi – isn’t that a beautiful sounding word? Upon learning of it, she thought it would help me with the pile of imperfections I had faced, and those I still had to contend with, well, with grace.

Under Renovation at ABC Carpet & Home . NYC

I love a research project so I started right away. It’s origin can be traced to Japan. The two words, divorced from one another, are rather sad. Together though, they have taken on a the poetry any great philosophy, which to my mind, is sublime. It has ties to Buddhism, whose wisdom is derived from making peace with the transitory and the imperfect. The unheroic nature of being human.

Broken and chipped, but set in plaster – the seashells become art.

Beauty then is balanced, enhanced even by the mistakes and damages, the ruined parts of the design, be it material or human, are incorporated into the object, the person, making them unique, contrasting the light to the darkness. Enhancing the appreciation, which in the absence of the imperfections, go unnoticed. Isn’t that just the puckeriest lemondade turned sweet?

Nothing a little white paint can’t fix.

Happy Saturday.

Robshaw: Revival of the fittest

JR about

Step back in time…were it not for the sneakers.  Robshaw in India from his website.

John Robshaw strikes me as an old soul with an adventurous heart, and an appropriately reverent appreciation for the commingling of history, and artisanal craft.  It’s a mouthful, but I suspect, though I have not met Mr. Robshaw, that his waters run deep. Therefore, they are worthy of the words. One little post from a gal on a modest quest like me, cannot possibly do this man justice.  I can however attempt to share with you all, some of elegance of what he creates. From the dusty roads of Rujistan to NYC’s Bowery, Robshaw has pioneered a revival.

 

JR The Bowery

The Bowery . in a time gone by.

From fine artist to artisan, from the studios and classrooms of Pratt, to the dirt floors, and open air markets of India, where the ancient and traditional techniques of hand blocked fabrics, found an eager student in John.  He has made a living, in living his passion.

JR Aerial

Aerial Light Indigo

I can only imagine he has a heart born for exploration, an inquisitive nature which led him to ask how, and why this ancient tradition was carried out in this fashion.  Crouched in small covered shacks, carving wooden blocks, which will later form the pattern.  Robshaw heralds the imperfections of the design, as a sacred sign of authenticity.  He imbues a sense of awe, infuses his own stylistic technique for overlapping pattern, and natural variation in color, that is the result of something made with adept skill and pride, rather than the cold, formulaic drone of mass production.

 

Left:  Robshaw: Aleppo Light Indigo. Right:  Malik

Robshaw is a fine artist indeed.  His Bowery based shop is gritty, and full of curiosities.  It doesn’t feel at all far from the farmland that its Dutch name indicates was its origin.  Before all all the shops, and bars and restaurants sprung up, before its neighbors in Chinatown called themselves by that name, and long before the Lower East Side was hip and called The LES, and before it was inhabited by writers, and Wall Street Brokers, Hasidic Jews and bejeweled starlets…it was just farmland.  Like a seed planted in that rich soil, Robshaw sprung up, flourished, and spread from East to West and back again.

JR Marmar kashmir

Robshaw . Murmur Kashmir

While many of the patterns feel Bohemian, I envision them in The Manse’s – Cape Cod Coastal setting.  The watery blue hues, the organic leafy patterns, vines and blossoms, feel right amidst the sand and seagrass.  Crisp, not rumpled.  Roman, not flowing reams of fabric for windows, upholstered stools and benches, not soft hassocks and floppy pillows.  Whatever your preference, Robshaw’s refined designs are both unique and familiar.

Left:  Robshaw . Citadel Lotus.  Right:  Robshaw . Faris Silver.

Sold to the Trade, and not here in Boston, you must email:  fabric@johnrobshaw.com.  Pillows and sheets can be bought at ABC Carpet in NYC.  I often find pillows at Hudson in Boston’s South End, and Target http://www.target.com/p/john-robshaw-bedding-collection/-/A-50746566 has an amazingly vibrant and playful line of bedding designed him.  Something to suit all budgets this Saturday.

JR Kalmala

John Robshaw . Kalmala