Call it handcrafted or wabi-sabi — either way it's an appreciation of the handmade and humble.
“Perfect imperfection” is a trend in furnishings and décor.
“It’s a return to the artisanal and the crafted, with narrative and meaning to objects,” says Caroline Till, co-founder of the London design studio FranklinTill. “Fingerprints of process and technique are part of the aesthetic appeal of the finished item.”
Her studio got together last year with trend researchers from across Europe and the U.S. to see what’s percolating in interior design, fashion and architecture. Their published compilation of findings is being used by designers as inspiration for new products.
“Perfect imperfection” was one of the design directions they identified.
Till says indigo is a lead player on the artisanal stage, and blue-dyed pieces can be found in abundance at retailers this season, including on Arhaus’ Indigo Mud Print Round Pouf ($199 at arhaus.com).
Houston designer Margaret Naeve is on board with the imperfect look.
“I love curtains that are slightly wrinkled, and vintage African furniture that’s one of a kind, obviously handmade by an artisan,” she says. “The idea of mixing pieces that aren’t perfect in a polished space excites me.”
Perfectly imperfect also reflects a 15th century Japanese aesthetic: wabi-sabi. Loosely translated, it refers to an appreciation of the effects of time, and the humble beauty found in things that are impermanent, old, worn or incomplete.
We see it in the charm of rustic recycled wood, wrinkly linens and vintage pieces with patina.
It’s also evident in unpredictable finishes, like reactive or drip glazes, and color-washed walls.
Anthropologie’s spring tabletop line includes the Karuma ceramics collection ($14–$108) with painterly drip and wash glazes in gentle hues.
Feathers inspired Nanimarquina’s Quill Rugs ($534–$2,224 at nanimarquina.com), free-form pieces with slight imperfections from the handmade process.
Crate & Barrel’s Bringham Metal Vases ($13–$45) meld a simple sculptural shape with an aged-look finish of gray, bronze and silver. Also there, grain-rich teak slabs are connected with black wire to create the Marcel Teak Wall Art ($299), which is both organic and contemporary.
West Elm’s Indigo Shine Mounted Aluminum Wall Art ($429) is crafted of aluminum, with a textural indigo finish creating a wave pattern. Spring bedding includes the purposely rumpled Belgian Flax Linen Melange Duvet Cover ($199–$249) in calming hues.
Inspired by an old wing chair stripped of its upholstery, furniture maker Van Thiel & Co. created a collection of deconstructed pieces with exposed walnut wood frames and burlap and cotton base covers for Restoration Hardware. The Deconstructed English Roll Armchair ($1,695–$2,495 at rh.com) would both fit in and stand out in a cozy living room.