This week's concept is: Fall leaves on the sidewalk as related to web design
Ever heard of Wabi-sabi? We hadn't either until a client of ours asked to incorporate some 'Wabi-sabi' into their design. After some quick google research, we came to realize what an interesting concept it is and what a challenge it was going to be to use in web design.
Wikipedia defines Wabi-sabi as:
Wabi-sabi (侘寂?) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete". It is a concept derived from theBuddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically impermanence, the other two being suffering and emptiness or absence of self-nature.
Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.
The best explanation we came across is the story of the buddhist monk and his student. The student is painstakingly raking a pattern in the zen garden. When it is finished and impeccably perfect he shows the teacher, but the teacher is unsatisfied. The teacher grabs a hold of a cherry tree branch and shakes it so that some of the blossoms fall down at will onto the sand. "There.", he says, "Now it is finished". The beauty of the randomness of where the leaves fell, the asymmetry, makes it more beautiful.
Our challenge: How are we going to relate this philosophy to web design?
If you read web design articles, you're familiar with the term 'pixel perfect'. Web designers are often perfectionists and pixel grids allow for a certain level of detailed perfection. When everything is calculated precicely in the code, how are we to add randomness?
Because the client was also a fan of minimalist design and we didn't want to do anything too wild, we decided to create some subtle Wabi-sabi elements in the form of hand drawn icons and slightly asymmetrical layout.
We love it when clients bring us unexpected inspiration. If you were to incorporate Wabi-sabi into your business or home life, what form would it take? This morning I noticed the beauty in all the fall leaves scattering the sidewalk.