flawed education

I always felt that important lessons were missed out of general education and mine in particular. In between other things life skills,… and a few other things that help us go through life and be happy. (This is in no way a complete list you understand!)

photo credit: Mixtribe Photo via photopin cc

photo credit: Mixtribe Photo via photopin cc

Today I came across something about Japanese design. It was not so much about the aesthetics but more about the meaning behind design. It puts into words simple concepts that I am going to share here.


Wabi stands for a kind of freshness and quietness. It can also refer to quirks and anomalies arising from the process of construction, which add uniqueness and elegance to the object. Sabi is beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of an object is evidenced in its patina and wear, or in visible repairs. The Japanese word for rust is also pronounced as sabi, and the two words surely share some connotations, when it comes to the impermanence of things. Wabi-sabi then is the art of balancing those two, which is neverending process in itself. In short: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect and that is a good thing.


It means original, calm, exquisite and sophisticated but without being perfect or complicated. A bit like the French word “chic”, but as the English would say: understated chic.

keep things plain and simple. Reducing designs to their essence is seen as strength of character.

Read more: http://www.tonyadavidson.com/musings_and_mullings/2012/07/5-concepts-to-improve-your-design-the-japanese-way.html#ixzz2qOfJ61ZW

(this is mainly an extract of an article called 5 japanese design concepts. click here if you want to read more http://www.batikk.be/post/47622466669/5-japanese-design-concepts)

photo credit: Thomas Leth-Olsen via photopin cc

photo credit: Thomas Leth-Olsen via photopin cc

One thing is for sure. The wording above meant more to me than many things I have read in the past and the reason is simple. Of course education puts a lot of design styles and movements into descriptions and set of artists. But here’s the thing, none of them talked to me. Putting the essence of design decisions and style like iki or wabi-sabi is not common knowledge. I am not surprised though but I feel very strongly that if it was, it would do a lot for many artists and designers. It would simplify their communication and most importantly build their confidence no end.

This post may not be for everyone but if it makes a difference for one person, then it was worth writing. And if this person is you, drop me a line and tell me how.


A lot goes into designing. Between the famous white page (or canvas), collecting imaging, drawing and scrunching concepts, eventually a “light bulb” moment will happen. We hope! See, when I start, I never know what the end result will be. I can, on occasion visualise an idea from talking to my client, but more often than not it takes a while before it comes together.

I can spend hours looking at things in books and online and some of it will only be useful in the future. That’s the trick, you never know when it comes in handy. It is stored as a visual memory or even an emotion until the time is right.

One of the things I like is “happy accidents” as I call them. Because they are the results of turning a page upside down, seeing something online, drawing some lines of the cuff and suddenly the whole thing comes together. Ta-da! But don’t get me wrong, it is not as easy as that and they are the result of my brain engaging in that design from the moment I start and collecting elements for it that simmer gently like a casserole dish. I can’t rush it and it will be better if I take my time. The thing is it is almost a necessary evil and can give the impression that design is finally taking it’s toll on my sanity but I know from experience that it is the secret ingredient.

Finally and maybe more importantly there is the end point where it is done. Nothing more needs adding otherwise there is the risk of destroying the core of what make that design work. So knowing when to stop is as important than the rest of the process.

Talking of which, it is now time for my next dose of visual collecting…