Wabi-sabi and architecture

Rikyū promoted an alternative set of values which he termed wabi-sabi—a compound word combining wabi, or simplicity, with sabi, an appreciation of the imperfect. Across fields ranging from architecture to interior design, philosophy to literature, Rikyū awakened in the Japanese a taste for the pared down and the authentic, for the undecorated and the humble.

Rikyū now argued that the teahouse should be shrunk to a mere two metres square, that it should be tucked away in secluded gardens and that its door should be made deliberately a little too small, so that all who came into it, even the mightiest, would have to bow and feel equal to others. The idea was to create a barrier between the teahouse and the world outside. The very path to the teahouse was to pass around trees and stones, to create a meander that would help break ties with the ordinary realm.

The Great Eastern Philosophers: Sen no Rikyū, The School of Life (September 26, 2014)

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