Wabi-sabi and design

When I was visiting New York City not too long ago, I stopped by Kinokuniya, a Japanese book/music/stationery/kitsch store with a most excellent design section. There I loaded up on books about tea ceremonies, the zen of leadership and wabi sabi (specifically Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers).

Wabi sabi is something that few Americans seem interested in. You can’t buy it like you can buy Feng Shui. Wabi sabi only comes with age and use and an eye for the masterful. It’s not something that can be sold as a mini kit at the Barnes and Noble checkout line.

A simple metal planter with some stones and succulent plants arranged in it to look carefree.

You cannot buy wabi-sabi.

When I was designing this lovely site you are beholding, I wanted it to look shiny, new, to pop off the page. But at the same time I wanted it to be purely functional, to showcase only what my readers come for: comics, art and writing (I flatter myself–I know you guys really only come for the comics!). After thinking about it, though, I wondered if I couldn’t give the site’s design the look of use, or worn edges or faded markings where a button is pressed too much, like on a children’s tape player.

It still pops. It still functions. But now I’ve added this deep, rich note of faux-use.

What do you think?