"For me, wabi-sabi means respecting nature and decay, seeing the beauty in decay,” says Aaron Isip. “It’s about celebrating the beauty of imperfection.” The Gault-Millau-awarded chef draws inspiration from the natural world in all aspects of his life, whether that’s prioritising seasonal, local produce in his dishes or in how he decorates his own personal space. “It’s all about lending integrity to the raw materials and letting them be as they are.”
Rooted in Japanese culture, the principles of wabi-sabi are based on the acceptance of transience, the impermanent and imperfect beauty of nature. Falling leaves during autumn, gnarled wizened trees, cracked dried earth. “Although the philosophy began in Japan, it can be applied to any aesthetic, even French design,” explains Isip. “Think of un-restored antique French furniture, wrought iron or oxidised copper, things with age and patina.”
Filipinos are such good craftsmen, and it makes sense to me to highlight this
The 70 sqm two-bedroom flat is thoughtfully styled like a bohemian dream. Layered with texture—macramé, natural wood finishes, rattan, linens, jute, clay—rather than seeming cluttered, the small space feels harmonious and cosy as it is all anchored in neutral colours. The main living area is an open-plan design with a seamless flow between dining and living, and the kitchen just off to the side.
“I absolutely needed a hammock,” the chef says. “It’s one of the first items I purchased and installed. It’s the most relaxing spot in my home. I love to lie there and read a book especially when it rains. I don’t have a balcony, so I tried to recreate this ‘outdoor’ vibe indoors.”
Isip was gearing to move to El Nido before the pandemic, but his plans were postponed. “I still wanted to have that beachy, nature-inspired atmosphere, even in the city. To bring a little of the El Nido state of mind to my home.”
The principles of wabi-sabi are based on the acceptance of transience, the impermanent and imperfect beauty of nature