Happy 2018! For this new year, we’ve decided that Ma must matter most. No, we didn’t stutter-we’re talking about the Japanese word “Ma,” which roughly translates to “the space between.”
Rather than being empty, “the space between” is dynamic, and it defines space, time, and form rather than taking away from it. A pause in music which creates rhythm, a portion of empty canvas on a painting, or a soft pause in conversation all embody “Ma.” In America, we are often uncomfortable with the space between. Who doesn’t cringe at an awkward silence in conversation? But the silence matters because it is where contemplation and enjoyment of the moment rest.
In interior design, Ma heavily influenced the Western concept of minimalism. Think about the ancient and still relevant concept of Ma if you worry about your minimalist kitchen going out of style! The circular opening in the blank wall of this traditional Japanese house embodies Ma well. The landscape is only partially revealed, so our imagination is left to contemplate the rest of the tree and the mountains beyond. The wall is intentionally left empty in order to define the shape of the window and the colors of the trees. Even the rhythm of space from the steps, to the interior of the home, to the window and space beyond is part of the concept of Ma.
As the New Year roles in and we rush back to school and work, enjoying “the space between” in our homes and lives can make a big difference. How are you going to embrace Ma this new year?
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