The Poetics of Voids

Wabi Sabi, the aesthetics of transient and imperfect beauty, is best explained to me from the perspective of the void space. Without the void, once cannot achieve asymmetry, simplicity, imperfection and or transience.

With the void or blank space, we were given room to let beauty settle in.  The unspoken qualities of any kind of art depend on that communication with the viewer. The best examples are the Zen paintings where the blank space is as important as the depicted object or scenery.

How it applies in architectural and interior design can be found on walls that are left unadorned so that everything else could afford to stand out.  It also manifests itself in the void space that surrounds an object – how much space is given around an item, whether it’s a window, mirror, a kitchen island, a dining table, a bath tub or fireplace.  The concept can be viewed as a mere anti clutter tendency. It’s a no brainer that a painting needs empty walls surrounding it for its art to be fully contemplated. It should be the same when designers want to show off their design intent or an object of desire.

Voidscapes are prevalent in minimalist interiors as the two are almost synonymous of each other.  The trick is not to have very little. One strives for a balance between the blanks and the substantial matters such as objects, furniture, adornments that are required for every day living.  After all, homes are not meant to be museums.  The practicality in home design would constantly challenge the desire to “minimalize” for the sake of art and aesthetics. How bare can we dare?  How scarce can sparse be?

Devoid of trims and decoration, this foyer serves well to showcase the graceful curve of the staircase.  A lone table and flower vase brighten the under side of the stair carriage.

Some rooms just become a monotonous backdrop when ceiling, floor and walls receive the same treatment so that the little furniture the room boasts will stand out.

A small niche surrounded by slab walls does the trick every time.

A clever recess on a slab door is all we need. The rest of the canvas can be plain but textured for added depth.

It’s the triangular volume encompassing the space that refocuses the viewer toward the exterior realm beyond the room.

Keep the walls plain so the curves show.

All muted and balanced.

A plain alcove to contain one so magnificent as this stove.

One needs room to step back and appreciate the beauty of this space and the ceiling that caps it.

It’s the space beyond that gives this room meaning.

It’s as much the blank wall as the beautifully detailed stairs that contribute to this wondrous tableau.

In some cases, it’s the shapes of the void spaces that are awesome.

And then, when the emptiness is the window from which we see delight, the room soars.

Photos: click on images for links to sources.