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Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers - Leonard Koren

Koren wastes no time in this concise text, briefly tracing the roots of wabi-sabi, the history of its obfuscation, and then laying out its qualities and principles with maximum clarity. Beautiful photographs accompany the delicately printed text and Koren provides an illuminating comparison with modernism, a masterful linguistic analysis, and many hints on where to look for wabi-sabi in the contemporary world.

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetics, difficult to describe clearly, perhaps because it is comfortable with ambiguity, because it invites sensory expansion by not revealing everything at once. Tanizaki explains it well in 'In Praise of Shadows' - wabi-sabi is the aesthetic of shadows. Koren finds it 'deep, multifaceted and elusive', an antidote to modern gaudiness, slickness, expensiveness. It can be ephemeral, but its expression is enriched by the effects of time, by corrosion and wear...