Wabi-Sabi and Presentation Visuals (part I)
From Wabi-Sabi to Golden Mean

Wabi-Sabi and Presentation Visuals (part II)

Bonsai_1Work, if we're lucky, is a creative endeavor. Our presentations — high-tech or not — require our creativity in planning, designing, and delivering. Can ancient wabi-sabi principles apply to such a common task as a business or academic presentation?

Richard Powell, in his book Wabi-Sabi Simple, discusses how the ideas of wabi-sabi can be used today to make our lives better in various way, including our work lives. Take a look at what Powell says on creativity and think of ways this could apply to presentation design:

"The influence of wabi sabi on creativity begins with a simple premise: Do only what is necessary to convey what is essential. In bonsai and in haiku, you prune and trim what is nonessential in an attempt to shorten the distance between the observer and the observed. You carefully eliminate elements that distract from the essential whole, elements that obstruct and obscure....Clutter, bulk, and erudition confuse perception and stifle comprehension, whereas simplicity allows clear and direct attention."

Not all wabi-sabi-inspired principles will have an obvious application to presentation design. But take a look at this chart from pages 10-11 of Powell's book. Here the author is contrasting wabi-sabi ideals with that which is "slick and stylish, plastic, and faux." What Powell calls "Tech Slick." Technology usage is important the author says, but a balance is necessary.

ACTIVITY
From this table below, how many of the ideas can you apply to the design and use of visuals or to the planning and delivery of your presentations?

Wabi Sabi
"Tech Slick"
Nature focused
Authentic
Allows things to age
Subtleties
Intuitive
Personal
One-of-a-kind
In the moment
The whole
Open and unresolved
Appreciation
Seasonal
Flexibility
Tolerates ambiguity
Paradoxical
Unrefined
Elegant
Fractal
Organic
Living
Handcrafted
Soft edges
Patina
Stone
Listens
Sees
Receptive
Slow
Humble
Plain
Reflective
Mindful
Heartfelt
Warm
Technology focused
Copied
Strives for eternal youth
Bold and obvious
Rational
Impersonal
Conformity and sameness
Future oriented
Separated into parts
Works toward closure
Depreciation
Quarterly
Stability
Intolerance of ambiguity
Black and white
Refined
Ornate
Square and measured
Geometric
Artifact
Mass-produced
Hard edges
Plastic
Steel
Talks
Shows
Arrogant
Fast
Proud
Fancy
Unconscious
Mindless
Heartless
Cold

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