*Produced by SilverKris for Sticky Earth Ceramics*
It’s not an understatement to say that 2020 was a tough year for everyone. The pandemic upended the world as we knew it, forcing us to take stock of our lives and sieve through the good, the bad and everything in between – which probably resulted in feelings of restlessness, ennui or uncertainty about the future.
If that sounds like you, maybe what you need is a gentle shift in perspective. Rather than focus on all the grand plans that fell through and goals that went awry in the face of the pandemic, perhaps this year is an opportunity for you to turn inward and embrace the wabi-sabi way of life. Rooted in ancient Japanese Zen philosophy, wabi-sabi is an invitation to slow down and appreciate the natural world around us: to recognise the beauty in imperfection and ultimately experience a little more joy and peace.
Rafal Kaczmarek, the Krakow-born, Melbourne-based owner of Sticky Earth Ceramics, explains, “No two people have the same experience with wabi-sabi because each of us sees the world differently. To me, wabi-sabi is a way of life that allows me to appreciate the value of simplicity and to see beauty in its most natural form.”
Having won the hearts of Melbourne residents with his unique pottery style, Rafal is excited to take Sticky Earth Ceramics beyond Australian shores and into Singapore. Rafal’s dedication to natural beauty is what sets Sticky Earth Ceramics apart from other homeware brands. Unlike the beauty standards of the West – which tend to idealise perfection and symmetry – the wabi-sabi aesthetic favours the distinctive characteristics of nature, placing value on naturally occurring shapes, lines and colours. Wabi-sabi also recognises the charm in blemishes and the beauty of the ageing process: cracks, weathering and discolouration from repeated use add to an object’s character as marks of a well-lived life.
Inspired by this philosophy, Sticky Earth Ceramics specialises in one-of-a-kind crockery where each piece is lovingly crafted by Rafal himself and is an expression of its source material. “I draw plenty of inspiration from the natural environment,” says Rafal, describing how the richness and vividness of Australian clay informs his approach to each piece he creates. “I believe nature can be a healing element for our busy lives, and I hope these everyday items can act as a natural salve for the people who use them.”
Below, we explore four simple ways to introduce wabi-sabi at work, at home, in your relationships and in your personal life.
1. Be intentional with self-care
These days, self-care has almost become synonymous with bubble baths, scented candles and face masks. But to do it the wabi-sabi way, Rafal recommends setting aside time for quiet introspection and immersing ourselves in natural environments. He says, “A daily meditation practice is a good counter-balance for our busy modern lives. Being out in nature also helps remind ourselves of the impermanence of existence. I try to head to the countryside at least once a week – I am very inspired by the colours and shapes I find in natural landscapes.”
2. Create a living space that is in harmony with who you are
With many of us spending a lot more time at home, it’s important to carve out a comfortable living space where we feel happy and are at ease. Whether that’s inviting the outside in with the use of natural light and fresh greenery or ensuring that all electronic devices are kept out of the bedroom, you’ll want your living space to be your sanctuary. One simple way that homeowners make a house feel like a home is by having objects that are meaningful to them and tell a story of who they are.
At Sticky Earth Ceramics, every cup, bowl and plate made by Rafal is a painstaking work of art. “I approach each piece of pottery individually, and each time I am trying to create a form that best represents the imperfect beauty of nature,” he shares. “I’ve always admired the timelessness of the functional art form. For example, Neolithic pottery dates back to 6,400 BCE, but we are still using these shapes and forms today in our everyday life.”
3. Show up with authenticity
While we are often our truest, most relaxed selves around friends and family, it can be hard to let our guard down at work. Because most workplaces are geared towards optimum performance and productivity, many of us think that we have to hide or at least edit who we are in a professional setting. But that’s not true. To practise wabi-sabi in the workplace is to be able to embrace the messiness of the creative process: to allow yourself (and others) to be imperfect, and to see setbacks not as failures, but as opportunities for growth.
4. Appreciate the mundane
Just as the wabi-sabi aesthetic places value on the rustic and the imperfect, it is also a reminder to cherish the seemingly prosaic moments in our interpersonal relationships. Whether that’s sharing a laugh with your best friend or taking time each day to re-connect with your partner over dinner, there is value in the plain or unremarkable. After all, life is not always about the big “Instagram-worthy” moments, but the many tiny, beautiful moments in between.
Sticky Earth Ceramics is now available in Singapore. For more information, click here.