Lifestyle Thrifting & Vintage

Wabi-sabi, the Art of Appreciating Imperfection

April 30, 2018
Wabi-sabi, the art of appreciating imperfection. Has a nice little ring to it, don’t you think? But what is wabi-sabi exactly, what does it mean?


Wabi-sabi is the Japanese art or aesthetic of accepting and appreciating the beauty of impermanence and the imperfect. Three characteristics among many that make up the fundamental basis of wabi-sabi include:

  • simplicity
  • asymmetry
  • asperity- roughness or irregularity of surface

I tend to embrace the imperfect, because in the world of vintage there are so many beautiful pieces including those with a few scars of imperfection. Imperfections are part of the story. Many vintage pieces have lived quite the life, often with world travel or small jaunts along the way.

At Audrey Would my goal is to offer pristine vintage pieces, but you will find some perfectly imperfect treasures in the mix.  This little touch of wabi-sabi will always be noted in an item’s listing details in an effort for complete transparency with my customers. At the end of the day, I want you to love your vintage treasures as much as I do!

Take this gorgeous Mid-Century pinch spout pitcher, for example.Vintage black blown glass pitcher with pinched spout.It is made of smokey black glass, hand blown and has a beautiful profile that emphasizes its curvaceous lines. There is no makers mark other than a characteristic pontil on the bottom from the glass blowing process. I can’t verify for sure, but I believe this pitcher may be a Blenko piece from the 1960s. What’s not to love?

So, would it change your mind if I showed you this beauty has a small area of imperfection?

Vintage black blown glass pitcher with pinched spout.

See the dark line where the top of the handle is fused to the body of the pitcher? This is actually a crack inside the glass. If I had to guess I would say the pitcher sustained a hard knock, but because of the thickness of the glass it did not crack through. Technically, this pitcher is still fully intact.

Now imagine this pitcher filled with a cheerful bunch of flowers or fresh cut greenery. The bouquet would be presented and the pitcher, showcased. The crack would suddenly become invisible to the eye. See what I mean about the art of appreciating imperfection?

Wabi-sabi in the Everyday

A few years ago I was out for a nice meal. The setting was casual outdoors in an established kind of way. At the end of the meal I was served this grilled pineapple upside-down cake for dessert.

Pineapple Cake and Wabi-sabi Plate

I loved the unique shape of the dish, and the smattering of little flowers that were decorative but not overdone. If you look closely you will even see a slightly textured tone-on-tone finish to the glaze. Now, if you look again, did you notice the white spot on the front edge of the dish?

The white spot is actually a small chip. One could be disappointed about the chip, or choose to embrace this little imperfection and appreciate the dish as a whole for its overall presentation. This is an example of wabi-sabi. To be served my decadent dessert in a chipped dish intrigued me. This confident, bold move is not generally what one anticipates when dining out. Some might think it was a misstep by the establishment, but for me, it added to my experience.

What’s your take on wabi-sabi. Would you embrace the chip of this dish, or would you be disappointed and wish this dish had been thrown away?

Thanks for stopping by!

Audrey Would Vintage Home blog



Photographs © Audrey Would! Vintage Home

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  • Reply Embracing the Flawsome June 9, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    […] quick to tell me stories of the items they still cherished even though they were damaged. Shelia of Audrey Would published a blog post on the subject. I kept thinking about this as I shopped, looking at things in […]

  • Reply Home To Heather April 30, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Fantastic post! I admit, I have been known to be ‘picky’ but like you, it’s only because I want to offer pristine items for sale. Some items wear better than others and there are some in my home which I love because of their flaws and history. It depends a lot on the item but from now on, I vow to do a better job of accepting things as they are – like your dessert. I would have gladly accepted that! 😉

    • Reply Sheila Zeller April 30, 2018 at 10:00 pm

      Thank you Heather! I’m with you – there are some things that are better left in their pristine state, and some that are just great no matter how much wear and tear they show with age. I really appreciate your comment 🙂

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