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Kireina: Beauty in Simplicity

Kireina: Beauty in Simplicity

White teapot
Photographed by Rory Gardiner (@arorygardiner) and styled by Sania Pell (@saniapell) for Maud & Mabel

The Japanese word kireina (綺麗な) can translate to ‘beautiful’, ‘neat’ and ‘clean’, a polysemy conflation reflecting a ponderance of beauty in simplicity. These aesthetic concepts are at the heart of wabi-sabi, the Japanese aesthetic principle guiding the curatorial scheme at Maud & Mabel. The new year invites introspection – a reflection of our way of life and consideration of things that are important to us. As we prepare ourselves for the coming year, we observe the ways simplicity can open our eyes to the quiet beauty in objects within our interior spaces.


“I believe that when we consciously cherish something precious, we deepen our relationship with it. This, in turn, deepens our bonds with other things in our lives, bringing out the best in them and in ourselves.”
Marie Kondo 

Styled interior of house with wooden beams
Interior space photographed by Rory Gardiner (@arorygardiner)
and styled by Sania Pell (@saniapell) for Maud & Mabel

The custom of spring cleaning before the Lunar new year leads to an annual decluttering – a selective process which rekindles our connection with objects in our spaces. Japanese consultant Marie Kondo’s philosophy on organisation and decluttering amassed a huge following over the last years, introducing to a wide audience the concept of kurashi, translated to ‘way of life’ or ‘seeing the world through the lens of what matters most’.

Photo of crafted tableware on wooden cabinet, photographed by Rory Gardner and styled by Sania PellPhotographed by Rory Gardiner (@arorygardinerand styled by Sania Pell (@saniapell) for Maud & Mabel, showing vessel by Nobue Ibaraki among others

The search for meaning extends to spaces we live in, as it shapes our habits and quotidian moments, forming places to discover unexpected beauty. Personal collections of handmade objects in these spaces enhance the purposeful engagement we make with materials surrounding us. By removing obstructions – unnecessary things empty of meaning – we create the space to breathe, observe the details that make a piece unique and remember our attachment to each object.

Styled white interior with bed and crafted jars
 Photographed by Rory Gardiner (@arorygardinerand styled by
Sania Pell (
@saniapell) for Maud & Mabel, featured in Elle Decoration November 2020 issue


The thoughtful curation of interior spaces that can be described with kireina demonstrate the balance and harmony of the interior design elements of light, space and texture. The beautiful effects of light and shadow are augmented in decluttered interiors, where light has room to travel uninterrupted, diffusing softly for an atmospheric effect.

Styled interior space with rustic atmosphere photographed by Rory Gardner and styled by Sania PellPhotographed by Rory Gardiner (@arorygardinerand styled by Sania Pell (@saniapell) for Maud & Mabel

The empty spaces not only guide light into a room, it creates an airy openness conducive to meditative serenity. Against the emptiness, the objects in a room take on an affective presence – their forms, colours and texture made distinct, accentuated by the plain spaces surrounding them and the soft light falling on the curves and edges.

Styled interior in beige tone, two large handcrafted jars on a rustic wooden table, photographed by Jake CurtisStyled interior photographed by Jake Curtis (@jakecurtisphoto) for Maud & Mabel

Contrasting textures are made apparent in these spaces: light glides over the smooth surfaces and follows the undulations and uneven roughness, capturing the materiality of objects. With opened up surfaces, clay, wood, metal, glass and concrete complement each other, ameliorating distinctive patterns and contrasting textures.



Sarah Warwick, ‘The 7 elements of design,’ Interior Design by Homes and Gardens, 2022,

KonMarie Philosophy, Kon Marie,


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