Beauty in Being Imperfect: A Market Embracing Wabisabi at Ponsonby Road

Beauty in Being Imperfect: A Market Embracing Wabisabi at Ponsonby Road

As you can tell with my Mum’s jewellery designs, she’s drawn to the old, imperfect and forlorn beauty. The other week we went on a trip to Auckland. And we were so excited to stumble upon this curiosity shop in the heart of Ponsonby Road. Ponsonby Road is known for its posh cafes, restaurants and hi-end clothes shops. So what a treat to enter an indoor market set up like a quirky old house with old furniture, old rugs, and even collections of creepy old dolls inside. The contrast couldn’t be more stark as this little shop embraces the beauty of being imperfect and derelict while everything around it is done up to perfection.

Welcome to Search and Destroy Shop! 

Here are some photos we took. Enjoy!

As you step into Search and Destroy, the first thing that catches your eye are not just the well-curated racks of vintage clothes, but the various miscellaneous antique items around the place. Be prepared to always have somewhere to look, as there’s always something interesting to catch your eye.

One of the most interesting items we came across was this old Nurse Ratched-esque doctor’s kit. It was like nothing we’d ever come across, and even picking up the instruments, you could tell they were very old!

Another thing that caught our attention, also falling into the category of eerily fascinating was the doll collection.

As you look around, you come across shelves and shelves, and tables and tables of very earthy looking pottery. The beauty of this pottery is that most of the individual pieces have either a crack, or some element of imperfection to them.

This is called “wabi-sabi”.

It’s a Japanese term for beauty in being imperfect. When all the potters started to produce their own pieces, they would purposely make them with that idea of perfectionism and clean lines out the window. Instead, they focused on giving objects soulful character by having natural imperfections and flaws.

The concept of wabi-sabi is perfectly (how ironic) embodied within the setup of this place. As you walk up the old wooden stairs, you see various items such as rugs and old signs completely misplaced on the walls, and as you are on the second level of the shop, you see more imperfectly beautiful pottery, along with old ragged clothes from Japan.

With all this being derelict and tattered, it is still presented with class and a unique element of quirkiness where the worn-out and used elements of these items is still attractive.

Gazing out the window from the top floor level, overseeing the upscale district that is Ponsonby. It is hard to fathom how a place embracing derelict and shabbiness can coexist with one of the country’s most modern neighbourhoods, swarming with new high-end bars, restaurants, trendy cafes, designer and boutique stores.

As we walk back down to old stairs, we step to their outdoor area. We are greeted by a beautiful Japanese-inspired garden and an outdoor seating area. The garden has antique Japanese statues and ornaments, bamboo plants, and a sozu fountain. Looking at this setup, you immediately feel like you’re strolling through the gardens of an ancient temple in Kyoto.

After admiring this setup, we sit down at the outdoor seating area. The chairs are covered head-to-toe in rust, another example of this place portraying the concept of wabi-sabi! The rusty chair adds a nice earthy touch to complement the overall vibes of this place. On the table, sitting on an unevenly-shaped stone are two earthy-coloured pottery bottles, and some white sage. I had no idea what the purpose of them being there was, but it added to Search and Destroy’s effortlessly thrown together aesthetic.

We then go back inside the main area of Search and Destroy, and decide it’s time for a coffee! The menus are handwritten with a very rustic and homemade look to them (and don’t you love the vintage flower frog). We order two iced mochas and made conversation with the lady at the counter as she makes our coffees. We asked about who usually comes to this place, to which she replies with people who work in film and the creative industries. Of course you would expect the creative types of people to be drawn to such a unique and eccentric place like this!

- Faith Ward

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