Sailor’s Wabi-Sabi and the Philosophy of Embracing Imperfection

Oftentimes, when talking about craftsmanship, we are talking about precision, exactitude, and a balance of aesthetic and function. It’s really a Western standard of design that most pen brands are held up to. But what if this was not the only standard of design that should be introduced within the pen industry? Japanese pen brand, Sailor, seemed to have posed this question in their latest Limited Edition, the Wabi Sabi 1st.

First, a primer on what Wabi Sabi is.

Wabi Sabi is a Japanese concept of accepting the imperfections of life. A gentle reminder that life, by definition, is imperfect and incomplete. Based on Buddhist tenets, the idea of wabi sabi celebrates a peaceful coexistence with the otherwise chaos of everyday life. By extension, wabi sabi has grown into a way of design. Lop-sided mugs, unfinished paintings, a curated carelessness can now be found in shops dedicated to the laissez-faire Eastern philosophy.

Sailor has embraced this concept with their Wabi Sabi pen. Consciously forgoing the conventional balance of their traditional lines, the Wabi Sabi is a deeply imperfect pen that represents its namesake perfectly. 

Most noticeable is the mottled barrel of the pen, which is produced using a technique known as Irogasane Sabinuri atop the ebonite base. By kneading rust into raw lacquer and polishing powder, then molding with water, a rough texture that almost has a candlewax look to it is formed. Artist Wayo Shimamori created this technique, giving it an artisanal quality that sometimes lacks in large fountain pen brands. The barrel is available in Red and Green. More about the Irogasane Sabinuri process can be found here.

This lacquer process is a long one, resulting in a very limited run of only 88 pieces of each color worldwide.  The pen is available in two nib sizes (Medium and Broad), each made with 21-karat gold and gold plating.  Buyers will receive a special wooden presentation box with the purchase of the Wabi Sabi pen that adds an added layer of intention behind this limited-edition piece. 

With its Buddhist-backed design philosophy and its representation of Eastern design, Sailor has put forth a product that is at once a standalone piece of art while also being a wholly and unapologetically Japanese product. While the pen itself may not be for everyone, one cannot deny the energy and thoughtfulness put into creating such a unique pen for a global retail audience.

The Wabi Sabi Sailor is available at retailers for EUR 2,941.  

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