A Couple Embrace Wabi-Sabi Design to Travel Back to the Past

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Enveloped by lush greenery, this contemporary Taiwanese apartment marries Zen elements with sleek, minimalist design.

Located in Taipei's scenic Beitou Hot Spring area, this 1,722-square-foot home belongs to a retired couple who were seeking a peaceful oasis that reminded them of Taiwan’s agrarian past. After seeking assistance from local interior design studio Wei Yi International Design Associates, the property now mixes a rustic material palette with minimalist design to allude to the beauty of imperfection, as espoused by the traditional Japanese "wabi-sabi" aesthetic.

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The gray-black structure in the middle of the home has been cladded in rusted metal and gold foil on one side to appear weathered and aged.

The gray-black structure in the middle of the home has been cladded in rusted metal and gold foil on one side to appear weathered and aged.

The lower convex edge of the structure is fitted with strip lighting, which when switched on, illuminates the passageway between the curved structure and  the interior wall.

The lower convex edge of the structure is fitted with strip lighting, which when switched on, illuminates the passageway between the curved structure and  the interior wall.

Balconies and generous windows visually connect the interiors to nature outdoors.

Balconies and generous windows visually connect the interiors to nature outdoors.

"Green mountains visible in the distance, and native trees on all sides, combined with the style and arrangement of furniture in the open layout, blur the boundaries of the space. The indoors and outdoors seemingly meld as one," explains Shin-Yuan Fang, the founder of the firm. 

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Across from the curved structure is a wall clad in Taiwanese cypress panels.

Across from the curved structure is a wall clad in Taiwanese cypress panels.

The apartment’s material palette—recycled wood, exposed concrete, terrazzo, and Japanese tatami mats—echo the colors seen outdoors, as well as textural memories from the country’s rural past. 

The apartment’s material palette—recycled wood, exposed concrete, terrazzo, and Japanese tatami mats—echo the colors seen outdoors, as well as textural memories from the country’s rural past. 

Clean, lightweight furniture pieces of different styles have been integrated into the living room.

Clean, lightweight furniture pieces of different styles have been integrated into the living room.

A steel blue cabinet floating near the entrance dissects the living area.

A steel blue cabinet floating near the entrance dissects the living area.

The mobile furniture items can easily be relocated to suit different needs and occasions.

The mobile furniture items can easily be relocated to suit different needs and occasions.

Concrete and warm wood merge together to create a tranquil setting throughout the home.

Concrete and warm wood merge together to create a tranquil setting throughout the home.

A peek at the minimalist master bedroom.  

A peek at the minimalist master bedroom.  

A "watshitsu" room, which is used for meditation and tea drinking, has a fully glazed wall that looks out to the verdant trees beyond the apartment.

A "watshitsu" room, which is used for meditation and tea drinking, has a fully glazed wall that looks out to the verdant trees beyond the apartment.

The guest bathroom features an organically shaped wooden table, which is suspended on copper and rests against the textured stucco wall.   

The guest bathroom features an organically shaped wooden table, which is suspended on copper and rests against the textured stucco wall.   

A partition wall separates the master bathroom from the bedroom.

A partition wall separates the master bathroom from the bedroom.

Various shapes of bespoke lighting have been used to give the interiors a warm, calming atmosphere.   

Various shapes of bespoke lighting have been used to give the interiors a warm, calming atmosphere.   

Floor Plan Drawing

Floor Plan Drawing

Project Credits:

Interior design: Wei Yi international Designer Associates