Aging and The Wabi Sabi Way

Aging and The Wabi Sabi Way

720 720 Susan Fireside

How does one resolve our contributions as people in an age of disposability? Nothing seems to be built to last. We buy computers, cars, and phones, knowing that they’ll breakdown and eventually need to be repaired and/or replaced.
As a creative, I always lean more to the idea of what we do as a craft. Not crafty as in DIY, but as genuine craftsman, being able to create something from nothing, of quality and with our hands, from our minds. It was designed, meant to be touched, and to serve a purpose beyond just the life span of a marketing campaign.

I think of these things because in the age of digital, everything is transforming. If I look back on the past ten years, most of the work I did now sits in the cloud. Just folders and files. Nothing to flip through or gaze at unless I remember to go into the archives. Same with photos. I take more, but once they’ve been backed up, I forget to look at them. I think that’s where we are headed with people. We are becoming more and more disposable. In the age of the gig economy, an uncertain political climate, and tech leading the way, how do we compete with what is always the shiny and new?

This is why I needed to transform my own work. To find the beauty in imperfection while everything else “seems so perfect”; because I can’t compete with perfection. However, I can create by embracing what makes us all different. The Japanese have a philosophy called Wabi Sabi, whose characteristics include asymmetry, simplicity, intimacy, appreciation of the process and understated elegance.

Wabi Sabi allows for us to see time, and the beauty that can come with it. Wabi-Sabi is everything that today’s sleek, mass-produced, technology-saturated culture isn’t. It’s flea markets, not shopping malls; aged wood, not swank floor coverings. Nature’s cycles of growth and decay are the natural process of time. And, time is our most precious currency. Through Wabi-Sabi, we learn to embrace both the glory and the melancholy found in these marks of passing time.

Hopefully, we can do the same for people. To embrace the one’s who have been there done that. And continue to push the boundaries of design and living.

Look at the work of creatives such as Seymour Chwast and Iris Apfel, who continue to push their own work and themselves at a time when everyone just wants an upgrade, this truly is The Way.