Application of Wabi-Sabi Philosophy in creative fashion design entitled “Nature: Impermanence”

Assist. Prof. Supreeya Suthamtarikul


Wabi-Sabi philosophy is one part of the Japanese aesthetic which is derived from the relationship of feeling and spirituality. It is also found from life experience and nature, including Buddhist insights. Shortly, “Wabi” means simplicity while “Sabi” means the appreciation of uncontrollable decay including imperfect and unfinished. Symbolism is one of important techniques, was used in poetry and literature during the early pursuit of aesthetics. The concept “Impermanence” storytelling and symbolism techniques are mainly used. Wabi-Sabi philosophy history from Muromachi period to Edo period was told.


1. “Contradictions of thought” and expressed asymmetry, incompleteness in nature, is symbolized with long dress and skirts of different lengths, the long dress and short overcoat are represented wealthy people. The short skirt is represented the humble group of people, or “wabi-sabi” group.
2. The concept of “Shibusa” or naturalness are represented asymmetry and incompleteness with the 2 pieces long dress combination. One is reduced and cut some part off, then put together by stitching over each other.
3. “Confusion” concept is symbolized as a long piece of clothes folded alternately, and assembled on a long dress and also represented simplicity with confusion of life.
4. “Simplicity” based concept is symbolized as a single piece of long cloth using the “Kiri” technique or cutting out the unnecessary things to a minimum as “wabi”.
5. “Emergence” concept is symbolized with a simple square shape nested behind a long plain dress, using 2 long pieces of fabric attached to the back of the plain dress that is patched with different colored of fabrics at the back. The Kintsugi technique was used. It is a technique for fixing pottery showing imperfections.

Square shape behind the body come from the concept of changing style to new attitude, called “Iki” in Edo period. Rikyu’s teacup concept is simple and homegrown, using local woven clothes, which is a natural color, naturally dyed indigo and ebony. They are pineapple fiber fabric, cotton fabric, hemp fabric and linen fabric to represent “Wabi (simplicity) -Sabi(home grown)”.

The use of natural fiber hand woven technique for High Fashion is only average. High fashion and design are fairy good. Symbolism technique and possibilities in design simplicity should be worked in progress.


  1. Researcher gains knowledge in research and analyzed the evolution of the philosophy “Wabi-Sabi” to a certain extent, using historical data, telling stories and finding examples in its design. which has been applied to fashion design experiment The results were satisfactory to a certain extent.
  2. In designing by applying the philosophy “Wabi-Sabi”, this collection has been focused on the issue “Simplicity” in view of “Wabi”. The researcher used techniques of symbolism in design as the main guide. It also has been focused more on structural design. The issue of antiquity and traces of decay or the concept of “Sabi” is likely to be the next stage of research. However, the researcher used hand-spun woven fabrics instead of the old ones to represent “Sabi”. and also used the concept of repairing pottery “Kintsugi” technique using two types of fabric to represent the mood of home grown.
  3. Surface experiments has also been conducted in this research has been cut off. Simplicity issue as well as the structural design and symbolism were used. Due to the beauty of the
    fiber and hand weaving showing the indigenous and humility are clearly seen, in addition to highlighting simplicity and nature.
  4. In the part of sewing, considering the design output, there may have seen some limitations in tailoring by using natural fibers fabric. The successful results may be missed the creative needs. Handwoven fabrics from natural fibers in Thailand may be find difficult to used for High Fashion. It looks beautiful and valuable, however it is too expensive to use for ready to wear. Budget was found obstacle in creative experiments.
  5. Handwoven fabrics from natural fibers in Thailand may be found the non-tight problem in weaving, so it made the work unstable shape. They are expensive and faced a budget obstacle in creative experiments. However, they are so valuable that no one can deny.
  6. The use of natural fiber hand woven technique for High Fashion is only average. High fashion and design are fairy good. Symbolism technique and possibilities in design simplicity should be worked in progress.

Objectives Aims or Purposes

  1. To study Wabi-Sabi philosophy and analyze their concepts.
  2. To analyze the work of designers who probably applied “Wabi-Sabi” philosophy in their
  3. To apply the concept of Wabi-Sabi philosophy in creating fashion design titled “Nature: Impermanence” by creating form and structure and experiment surface design.
  4. To experiment by using woven fabrics from natural fibers in Thailand for fashion apparel.

Process or Methods

  1. Primary Research
    1. Collect natural fiber woven fabrics such as cotton woven fabrics, bananas, pineapples, etc.
    2. Experimental surface design (Embroidery or other methods) A4 size also form and structure design experiments by making pattern and sewing with calico
    3. Applied techniques for using symbols or signs in design.
    4. Applied techniques for experimenting forms and structures and surface design with the decaying (sabi)
    5. Design of 5 real works and sewing
    6. Evaluation of high fashion design by organizing a focus group and collecting assessment data.
    7. Evaluation of Creative Design at the College of Design International Symposium International Symposium Working in Progress: Green Design
  2. Secondary research
    1. Revew and Analyze concepts of “Wabi-Sabi” philosophy in history of aesthetic from books, journals, pictures, research and websites. Apply “wabi-sabi” which reviewed history of aesthetic from Heian to Edo period. Find some concepts to design a collection.

Techniques and materials

Symbolism technique is applied in fashion design. Experiment of symbolism technique with storytelling by representing forms and structures, using homegrown natural fiber woven; hemp, cotton, linen which are hand woven fabric for fashion apparel.

Size or Mins.