Inspiration Table: Can Lookiloos Pass a Wabi Sabi Test?

Inspiration Table: Can Lookiloos Pass a Wabi Sabi Test?

A Wabi Sabi Table - Inspiration Table: Can Lookiloos Pass a Wabi Sabi Test?

When San Jose floral designer Jose Ibarra set a stunning Easter table for Lookiloos, he promised that anyone could do it. Just pull out some old — and even broken — things from your cabinets and take some clippers into the garden and you, too, could elevate Easter brunch to a “wabi sabi” art form. That’s the Japanese way of finding beauty in imperfection.

So Lookiloos photographer Desiree Northend and I took him up on the challenge. We made a slight modification — instead of an Easter brunch, we set the table for a friend’s birthday brunch in Santa Cruz. But we tried to emulate the spirit of the table in every other way. You be the judge about how we matched up. Here’s what we did:

1. Broken Can Be Beautiful: Jose took an old broken urn and said he glued it back together. I went into my backyard and found the remains of a wire plant stand (with a broken top) and pulled it out from under a bush. Jose added texture with an old linen tablecloth. Desiree pulled out a vintage white tablecloth from her cupboard and I added a sheet of burlap from my shed.

Brunch Table Setting - Inspiration Table: Can Lookiloos Pass a Wabi Sabi Test?

2. Vary Heights on the Table: Jose started high at the back of the table with the tall urn, then stepped downward with a shorter planter, a vintage scale for scones, upside-down cups as risers for juice glasses, and stacked plates and fruit. Desiree found a strawberry pot to replicate the texture and height of the urn. I pulled out a shorter, galvanized metal planter from my sideyard. Desiree grabbed some little metal buckets she had left over, flipped them and mounted juice glasses on them. She also had a foot-tall, cast iron birdbath from her front porch for pastries.

3. Add Flowers: Jose had a huge bunch of fresh lilacs in the urn and white orchids in the smaller planter. Not wanting to spend money on lilacs, I grabbed a pair of scissors and tiptoed through a vacant lot for purple weeds, er, wildflowers. Desiree picked up a white hydrangea at Trader Joe’s.

Bunny - Inspiration Table: Can Lookiloos Pass a Wabi Sabi Test?

4. Add Whimsy: Jose placed some classic yellow chicks on the table along with a vintage chocolate bunny mold. I violated the wabi sabi code when I found a weathered-looking bunny at T.J. Maxx and bought it for $6.99. The concrete snail with the broken ear under my orange tree could have worked, but that bunny was so cute!

5. Be Thoughtful: Jose wrapped eggs in egg carton containers and tied them with pretty ribbon. We found linen cocktail napkins emblazoned with the birthday girl’s initial, wrapped them around the silverware and tied with a pretty ribbon. Unlike Jose’s table, we added champagne. It’s a girls’ weekend, right?

Monogram with Ribbon - Inspiration Table: Can Lookiloos Pass a Wabi Sabi Test?

How close did we come? You decide. Better yet, try it yourself and let us know how close you came.

Julia -

(photographs by Desiree Northend)

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Carmel Valley Cabin – Back to Nature

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