Themes/Being Human: Embracing the imperfect

Jerry introduces us to an architect, two artists and a designer who share the same desire: to work against the contemporary world’s pursuit of perfection.  

If we look at the foundations of western ideals of beauty, such as the Greco-Roman infatuation for symmetry and balanced proportions, we can see how a lot of our current standards are based around the aim of achieving some form of perfection. However, there is much to learn and borrow from other cultures.

In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a worldview which accepts and embraces imperfections, the weathered, the aged, the broken. It’s a way of thinking that accepts that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

For some of us it is easy to stick strictly to a plan or checklist and be meticulous, but things don’t always come out as planned and this approach can constrain our creativity. At first, unconstrained expression can be daunting but there are plenty of things we could learn from Japanese aesthetics, whether we implement these in our research and experimentation phases or our ‘final’ outcomes.

The following creatives employ aspects of imperfection and embrace them as key components of their work

Architecture: Amin Taha Architects and Groupwork

Credit: 15 Clerkenwell Close. Completed in 2017 by Amin Taha Architects and Groupwork. Photographs, Jerry Florez.

Amin Taha’s 15 Clerkenwell Close has proven to be a highly controversial building as local authorities (councils) suggested that its ‘ugly’ appearance didn’t suit the street’s Georgian style. Nevertheless, the design went on to win two RIBA Awards in 2018 due to Amin Taha’s study of the materials that were present in the street a century ago, before the existing Georgian inspired buildings were built. Taha decided to use the material’s natural character to complement its contextual meaning.

Read Sean and Chinelo’s article that introduces a series of architectural keywords including ‘context’

Explore more of Groupwork’s projects at

Groupwork was formerly known as Amin Taha Architects. Discover more about Amin Taha’s Architect’s work via Dezeen

Fine art/ ​painting: Henrik Uldalen

Credit: Clockwise from left: ‘Solace’, oil on canvas, 2018; ‘Relapse’, oil on wood, 2017; ‘Anemone,’ oil on wood, 2016; ‘Efflux’, oil on wood, 2015 . Henrik Uldalen is exclusively represented by JD Malat Gallery in London.

Henrik Uldalen is a self-taught Norwegian painter, whose work consists of thick and haphazardly scattered layers of paint contrasted with realistic, neoclassical-esque portraits. His work often appears to be ‘unfinished’ and is highly textural. It is the combination of these two elements of tranquility and chaos that brings such depth to his work. As the artist has mentioned in previous interviews, he focuses on concepts of loneliness, isolation and self-reflection – themes which greatly benefit from the spontaneity of his textural expression to add emotional depth. He also produces small scale, quick studies or experimental paintings as a way of exercising his skills and ideas freely.

Explore more of Henrik’s work at
Find out more about Henrik via JD Malat

Advisory note: Henrik’s paintings contain nudity.

Fine art/painting: Tomo Campbell

Credit: Tomo Campbell, ‘Say it Ain’t So,’ 2016, oil on canvas, 1500 x 1700mm. Copyright the artist.

Tomo Campbell is a Central Saint Martins graduate with a very distinctively fluid, textural and expressive style. His influences are varied but mainly revolve around his own emotional expression, and the continuity between one painting and the next. Music has also had an impact on his style, as he explained to Dazed: “​This idea of variations and mistakes [in the music] and basically just attempting to articulate feelings has become probably a really conscious influence on me.​”

Explore more of Tomo’s paintings via The Cob Gallery

Read Tomo’s interview with Dazed in full  

Product design: Michal Marko

Credit: ‘Concrete Stool’, Michal Marko. Watch Michal’s process video on Vimeo.

The stool above was designed by Michal Marko, a furniture designer playing with alternative casting techniques that provide room for some chaos and spontaneity in the result. Using a plastic foil mould, the concrete and the mould work together to create their own form, with only some functional parameters being dictated by the designer. As Marco explaines: “This process of making concrete stools uses a bit of randomness. Every time you make a new stool it has a unique shape”  

Explore more of Michal’s work via Behance

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