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Trend Alert: Wabi Sabi

Among the relevant trends that we examine each year, lifestyle trends are among the most interesting in terms of their influence on event design. Derived from the worlds of art, fashion, and interior design, they influence venue selection, floral design, décor, fashion, menus, and more. In 2016 and 2017, hygge (hoo-guh), the Danish word referring to the art of building a sense of sanctuary or coziness, was the dominant lifestyle trend in weddings and events. In 2018, it’s the Japanese concept of “wabi sabi.”

Photo courtesy Corey Torpie Photography:

Wabi sabi means finding beauty in imperfection and it is definitely on-trend. It is characterized by its focus on simple ambience—life pared down to a slow and uncluttered authenticity. A wabi sabi venue, for example, might include a timeworn interior with just enough peeling paint to convey a sense of elapsed time imbued with charm that invokes an introspective emotionality. Decaying textures, muted and subdued palettes of neutral hues, and linen with frayed or raw edges are consistent with wabi sabi, all suggesting the graceful passage of the years. Wabi sabi is in many ways like a Japanese-influenced twist on the long-popular shabby chic.

“Exposed distressed timber dinner tables and mismatched place settings are perfect for the wabi sabi concept, as are worn, upholstered dining chairs over a sea of ‘perfect’ identical chivaris.”

How can you create a wabi sabi ambience for your events? Venue selection is key. Avoid “perfect” sites that are too modern, updated, or sterile. Instead, look for spaces with their own histories where no matter how many times in their existence they have been spruced up and even renovated, a sense of age and wisdom still bleeds through. Historic properties and outdoor works of architectural genius are awesome wabi sabi venues.

Stephanie Yonce Photography:

Pull the fundamental shades for your palette from the venue you choose and complement them with other neutral or muted hues. Add sparse flowers in ceramic vessels of varying heights entwined with plenty of negative space to allow for aesthetic ease. Don’t cover up or mask the most interesting things! Exposed distressed timber dinner tables and mismatched place settings are perfect for the wabi sabi concept, as are worn, upholstered dining chairs over a sea of “perfect” identical chivaris.

Wabi sabi food presentation allows the beauty and flavors of a meal to take center stage. Eclectic ceramic serving dishes in muted colors are the ideal background for items that are inherently vibrant and fresh in appearance. Accent with pieces of pottery and thick, rustic pillar candles.

Celebrating the inherent value in things that have withstood time, enduring craftsmanship and authenticity is such an easy and natural match for great event design. Wabi sabi is both a return to ancient ways and a cutting-edge trend—a delicious contrast that captures the heart and mind while soothing the overtaxed soul in a chaotic and fast-paced world. Embrace the beauty in imperfection by incorporating wabi sabi into your 2018 designs.

Want more trends? Stay tuned for more information on Catersource 2019. Click on the link below to go to the website.

Kylie Carlson

Founder / CEO, The Wedding and Event Institute

Kylie Carlson is the CEO of the International Academy of Wedding and Event Planning. With six locations globally, the academy boasts an internationally recognized accreditation program that brings professional training to wedding planners, designers and stylists.