Holiday Table: A California Architect's Wabi-Sabi Picks by

Issue 50 · Saint Lucia · December 16, 2012

Holiday Table: A California Architect's Wabi-Sabi Picks

Issue 50 · Saint Lucia · December 16, 2012

San Francisco architect Cary Bernstein brings a wabi-sabi aesthetic to her holiday entertaining.

For twenty years, Cary Bernstein, a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory, has been working her own brand of modernism into the Bay Area. Influenced by her many trips to Japan, Bernstein takes a high/low approach to setting her table and quotes the design philosopher Leonard Koren from his book Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosphers, “In wabi-sabi, there is no valuable, since that would imply not valuable. An object obtains the state of wabi-sabi only for the moment it is treated as such.”

N.B.: Want to see more of Cary Bernstein's ideas for holiday entertaining? Check out her mood board on Pinterest.


Above: Bernstein uses an old tea cannister as a vase for her "street tree" cuttings.


Above L. The natural earth color and simple form of this Jasper Morrison Terracotta Jug lends an air of modern rusticity to the table; £58. Above R: Bernstein uses classic Tajika Flower Shears as grape shears; $69.


Above: The three layers of Deborah Ehrlich's Hurricane Lanterns give off an ephemeral light; $300 to $900, depending on size.


Above: The Alessi Tonale Table Set designed by UK architect David Chipperfield was inspired by vernacular ceramics from Korea, Japan, and China.


Above: Metal craft artist Takemata Yuichi is known for the well-used appearance of his stainless steel plates and cutlery.


Above: Smith Handmade's Linen Napkins add a rustic texture to the table; a set of six for $12 CAD.


Above: The Divis Table by Council Design has a rectangular top which is split by the supporting legs. The solid surface is open in places creating both a visual and a physical tension. Go to Council Design for price and ordering information.


Above: Hammered brass and aluminum cups from Sfera represent the meeting ground of wabi-sabi and Scandi; go to Sfera for more information.

N.B.: Looking for more holiday table setting ideas? See A Holiday Table with Soul where New York designer Brad Ford shares his holiday entertaining ideas; Holiday Tables Fit for an Englishman, where London designer Ben Pentreath entertains in the city and country style; and Holiday en Plein Air where LA landscape desisgner Judy Kameon entertains outside.

Have an opinion? Care to comment? We'd love to hear what you have to say.