After months and months languishing on Sky + I finally watced Marcel Theroux's 'In Search of Wabi Sabi'.
In case you can't be bothered to watch or follow the links, Wabi Sabi is a japanese theory to aesthetics and transience as the touchstone of beauty. Now I think the basics of that are worth whole series of posts, how flaws and wrongness are much more attractive than elaborate or even pristine, minimalist design. I personally dislike the design directions of Apple, I know it taps into human needs to simplicity etc, but to me it's too hard, too obviously 'designed' too hard.
That's not really the point. Wabi Sabi is actually a much more complex ideas than that. Even though most of the people Theroux meets in Japan know what Wabi Sabi is, they find it difficult to describe. It has all sorts of roots and expressions. From the tea ceremony to Haiku. From Zen Buddhism to rugged potter - it's so rooted in culture, they're so used to it, you might as well ask what red looks like.
I think there's a number of themes in this:
Sometimes language simply isn't enough, you can only get to some sort of approximation to describe whole load of fuzzy associations, feelings and experiences - you need to find other ways to express it. That's the problem with brand onions etc, that can be the problem with single minded propositions for multi-touchpoint campaigns...and trying to describe why you love someone.
Rituals are terribly important in our lives, they civilise us, they help us get in touch with each other, with ourselves, and can be a constant in an ever transient world - we all need some ballast.
Perfection isn't necessary, and maybe shouldn't be sought after, but being a purist about things is no bad thing in a world (our industry in particular) chase other's approval and fall for fads all the time.
There's a world of difference between admiring something and feeling genuine affection for it. I really admire some films, like Zodiac, but didn't really enjoy it. The same can be said for lots of clever advertising that's very impressive, but doesn't make you FEEL. Baking in warmth and depth to all sorts of stuff is really important.
Complexity is important, but I like the idea of stripping out what isn't necessary. There are about 20 buttons on my DVD remote I never use for example. So many presentations are really boring because some git wants to show off rather than tell me something interesting. And so many pieces of design, music or film just look like they're trying too hard - sometimes trying to be simple.
The japanese are more like the English than I thought -we both have a deep love for tea and gardening.