Perfectly Imperfect

An interior designer taps into the philosophy and flow of wabi sabi

Interior designer Troy Zimmerman employs the principles of wabi sabi in the design aesthetic of the home shown here by juxtaposing such elements as raw bark, antique pottery, and unfinished wood accents with clean, contemporary furnishings in natural hues, adding an earthy and inviting touch to the living space.

Photo by Ethan Kaminsky


The Japanese aesthetic philosophy of wabi sabi, rooted in Zen Buddhism, embraces naturalness, imperfection, and simplicity — raw materials, irregular design formations, rust on a garden table, a crack in a glazed pottery vase.

Wabi (simplicity) and sabi (the beauty that evolves with age and wear), when combined and applied to interior design, create a tranquil space, explains Palm Springs designer Troy Zimmerman, who employs the aesthetic in homes he designs throughout the desert.

“As with a modern structure, the interior does not need to be overfurnished; calmness comes from leaving some spaces untouched,” he says. “Emphasis is on the simple detail of individual pieces, not on quantity or grandeur.”

Zimmerman likes to marry old with new, textured with polished, and to harmonize a home’s interior with its exterior.

“The [linearity] of a modern house and the environment in which it is set determine the design direction,” he says.

A wabi sabi home should feel lived in; flaws consequent from wear and tear add to the beauty of the overall ambiance.

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