Tagged philosophy

Demystifying Wabi-sabi

Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
It is a beauty of things modest and humble.
It is a beauty of thing unconventional.

While sitting beneath the cherry blossoms at a typical Hanami (“flower viewing”) party in Japan it’s easy to forget that behind the alcohol-fueled revelry you’re actually taking place in a very particular form of appreciation centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

Aesthetic ideals are central to Japan’s cultural identity and the Japanese language has all sorts of fancy words for describing our feelings towards how we perceive the world but underlying them all is the notion of wabi-sabi (侘寂). Read more

Haruki Murakami and the Japanese Mind

Walking home the other evening, a man passed me on a bicycle with a cat riding in the front basket. While this wasn’t terribly unusual, what took me aback was that both he and his cat were wearing matching stripy jumpers and top hats (think Dr. Seuss). Even stranger was the fact that nobody else bat an eyelid. Read more

Design is…

I’ll save passing comment on iOS 7 for another day (short version: brave new world) but more than this I wanted to share the beautiful video’s Apple made explaining what design means to them – a mission statement if you like.

“I think there is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity, in clarity, in efficiency. True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation, it’s about bringing order to complexity.” – Jony Ive

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs

Cloud Atlas Retrospective


Death. Life. Birth. Future. Present. Past. Love. Hope. Courage.

An 1849 diary of an ocean voyage across the Pacific; letters from a composer to his friend; a thriller about a murder at a nuclear power plant; a farce about a publisher in a nursing home; a rebellious clone in futuristic Korea; and the tale of a tribe living in post-apocalyptic Hawaii, far in the future. Read more

Yuelu Academy in Changsha

Earlier this month I spent a weekend in Changsha (长沙), the capital city of Hunan province (south-central China), to attend a friend’s wedding. Changsha is typical of every other second tier city in China – sprawling, grey, and heavily polluted with nothing much going on other than the relentless development of high-rise buildings and endless roads. This is not somewhere you would visit for a holiday but I did manage to find one small gem in the rough… Read more

Expat or Immigrant?

When thinking about the identity of those living outside their native countries it soon becomes pretty clear that there’s a big gap between how we perceive ‘immigrants’ and ‘expats’ even though in many ways they are essentially the same. Immigrants are seen as poor and desperate job-stealers, while expatriates are portrayed as curious adventurers and cosmopolites. This smacks of double standards to me and I think it’s time we reevaluate the use of these words. Read more


If you enjoyed the visual and musical tour-de-forces of Koyaanisqatsi and Baraka in the 80’s and 90’s then you will undoubtedly be looking forward to the upcoming Samsara which is being released next month (directed by Ron Fricke).

SAMSARA is a Sanskrit word that means “the ever turning wheel of life” and is the point of departure for the filmmakers as they search for the elusive current of interconnection that runs through our lives. Filmed over a period of almost five years and in twenty-five countries, SAMSARA transports us to sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial sites, and natural wonders. By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, SAMSARA subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary, instead encouraging our own inner interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern.

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Designing Emptiness

One of my ambitions in life is to design and build my own house. I am not strictly a designer or builder but I do have a very clear vision in mind of what I would like to create eventually. I think the first step towards this would be to start with something a little more manageable in scale and while researching the possibilities, a number of projects which make very clever use of small spaces caught my attention… Read more