The Wa Group: Sharing the wabi sabi Aesthetic

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A combination art exhibition/design shop, the Wa Space is the first project of the newly launched Wa Group, which has been under development for over two years. The Wa Space and its online e-commerce counterpart, the Wa Shop, will feature a Japanese artist’s exhibition each month as well as a seasonal, semi-permanent collection.

Ranging from interior decor and furniture to tableware and fashion accessories, the space will have a wide variation of items that truly embody the nature of Japanese design and the “wabi sabi” aesthetic.

Dominic Carter, originally from Australia, started off in Japan in the marketing industry, and launched a successful market research and consulting agency in 2004. The opportunities he experienced in Japan, combined with his growing appreciation towards Japanese design after 15 years of living here, turned into a desire to share it with the rest of the world.

“I didn’t want my time in Japan to be one-way… I wanted to create something that would give back to Japan and put some meaning behind what I was doing here,” Carter explains.

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The wabi sabi aesthetic on display at The Wa Space

 

Carter and his team specifically developed an admiration for the wabi sabi concept. “Wabi sabi aesthetics is about not wasting things and not over-perfecting things. It is about appreciating objects in their natural and uncontrived state, which is ultimately related to sustainability,” Carter says. He explained that wabi sabi represents natural imperfections, and truly communicates what’s great about the contemporary, modern art of Japan.

Supporting this aesthetic, and advocating the art that embodies it in the Wa Space encourages people to feel and think differently. This communicates the underlying message of sustainability, according to Carter.

“I wanted to inspire the idea of sustainability, without doing it in a way that tells people what to believe and what not to believe,” he says, adding that he hopes to develop people’s senses about the topic and translate the message organically.

The Wa Space also aims to be a place where everyone can participate. The group’s intent is not only to speak to those with a true passion for art, but also to anyone who would like to enjoy the experience without making a huge investment. Price points at the Wa Space and Wa Shop make art accessible to all, as one can invest in a multi-million yen traditional tansu, or casually purchase a four hundred yen textile coaster.

To help promote the value of the local craftsmen and artists, the Wa Group hand-selects its wares from artisans across Japan. Its lineup currently includes items from Iwate, Osaka, Saga, and Gifu prefectures to name a few, but its first exhibition will feature the dyed textiles of Tokyo-native, Tochigi-based Hideo Tao and his Studio Garaya.

Tao creates Japanese decor through traditional dyeing techniques using natural materials such as kakishibu (persimmon extract), minomushi (cocoon material commonly used in kimonos), plant dyes, and rice powder. Each project is hand-treated and crafted by Taō, an attention to detail that has earned him the honor of being named an official Heritage Artisan of Japan in 2008.

During his month long exhibition at the Wa Space, Tao’s art will be featured with a “sakura season” theme, offering textile art and decor at all prices.

As The Wa Group gears up for their much-anticipated launch at the end of March, Carter reflects on his overall vision for the Group. “I’d love to eventually expand to all the major cities in the world to spread the word on Japanese design. And at the highest level, my goal is based on creating a better understanding between countries—if people can experience another culture through that culture’s artwork and integrate it into their daily lives, they can’t help but be positively touched.”

For more information about The Wa Group, please visit their Facebook page

4-3-27-1F Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052
Tel: 03 4520 9335