Sometimes I need to redirect my attention to what I feel is important to this space. So there is a philosophy, a concept of sorts that I feel is very important to my interests. Shibui is a word that describes everything good about everything I like, but has no equivalent in English.
So what is shibui?
Shibui (渋い) is a term that has its origins dating back to Edo period Japan. A time when Japan became united and people had time to chill out and contemplate some aesthetical values. It was a term that described the understated beauty of arts, crafts, song, and dance. Understatement and beauty are the key ideas.
The concept is ancient but I want to attempt to reinvent it for this day and age. My hope is to create less waste, and for people to resist disposing of things thoughtlessly. Hopefully after reading this and digesting it you may reconsider reclaiming some things if your life.
The first things to know are the main elements that define shibui. This first and most basic of which is implicitness. There is not one shibui for everybody but many shibui for many people. For example the thing you find shibui about something may not be what another finds shibui. This spontaneity is synonymous with the idea. The feeling created is also non-intentional, meaning the craftsman or artist’s ability created the shibui feeling. Respect is the key idea here, and not everyone may see the same aspect but respect it nonetheless. It also cultivates different aspects of appreciation.
Shibui is simplicity in its purest form. It isn’t flashy or noisy. It is silence that speaks volumes. The tacit silent nature of shibui makes it distinct. The artists imperfections are the details to be appreciated. The silent nature of shibui colors also plays an important role. Earth tones, natural dyes, everyday unobtrusive color are key to what makes something shibui, the beauty of understatement.
Shibui design is not designing for your audience, but rather creating from your heart. Coming up with a concept, designing it, and then actualizing it are the important points to remember about shibui. Shibui comes from the heart, deep emotional influence conveyed unintentionally into an object, a step, or a passage.
The idea of the “nameless” craft comes from shibui. The belief that the artist’s feelings and personality will be conveyed through their work can be enough to identify the artist. The most shibui items have no name to identify the artist.