Axel Vervoordt: Wabi Inspirations

— An emptiness that is full.

One of my favorite rooms of all time sits in Axel Vervoordt's Belgian castle. There's nothing in this room that distracts me from seeing the most impressive details: wood grain and textile fibers...

Sometimes, I think: what am I doing addressing so many random subjects on this blog? One day I talk about a hike, next, homemade comfort food, then clarity on personal thoughts, and then a switch into home design... Actually, these subjects are all related to what I think it means to live a good life and how I go about living that life. These principles make their way into how I'd design my home.

I only realized the relationship between the topics when I came across Axel Verdvoordt: Wabi Inspirations. Axel Verdvoordt's personal philosophy shows up in everything he creates.

Breathing room: A couple of my favorite spaces in the book. Natural surfaces along with proportion and space are the 'decoration'.

"Modern living spaces are so often defined by fashion and commercial marketing strategies.
But Wabi is not a style, a fashion, or design trend. Neither is it an idea that is likely to be imitated or replicated on a large scale.
For Wabi is neither formulaic nor can it be prescribed.
For it avoids showy objects and conspicuous displays of wealth.
The defining factor that sets Wabi apart is its purity and simplicity.
It is free from eclectic clutter and distractions that prevent us from finding inner peace.
As such it is tranquil, calm, and reassuring--completely centered."

And that is why there are no interior designers like him. The entire industry operates on formulas, displays of wealth.

"Wabi celebrates the very beauty of imperfection and incompleteness: qualities that I treasure more and more as I have come fully to understand their significance."

Interior design publications assume everyone wants a stimulating space. I'm not looking for that. After all, how stimulating can bold patterns be day after day? I want a calm space where I can feel stable, a starting point for whatever I end up doing in that space. Perhaps it's calmness, rather than an agitated mashup of designs, that stimulates me in the first place.

I also admire the idea of 'incompleteness'. While most interior design is about completing a room--matching coffee table, end table with sofa--Axel Vervoordt's rooms leave space for possibilities.

"As the silence between notes in music is critical, so the brevity and empty space present in art is just as important to magnify the intensity of the expression."

Throughout the book, Axel Verdvoordt shares his appreciation for nature. The beginning chapter is a about a rain hut where he and a group of colleagues sit inside and enjoy the sound of rain. They light a fire to keep warm. All of life's simple pleasures contained in the small space of a wooden hut.

"While Axel lights the fire we listen to the sounds of silence: raindrops on the roof.
Wood crackling on the fire."

Quotes and images via Axel Verdvoordt: Wabi Inspirations, by Axel Vervoordt, Tatsuro Miki, Michael Paul, Laziz Hamani.

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