Wabi-Sabi is a very old Japanese aesthetic ideal that describes a certain kind of created object. Wabi-Sabi is complex and subtle, and has to do with modesty and simplicity, and a beauty that arises out of a masterful relationship both to materials and to the natural world.
Does Wabi-Sabi sound somewhat intangible? Indeed, it is. But you know it when you see it.
Wabi-Sabi is the name Cassandra and David Bates gave to their wonderful gift store on Paseo del Pueblo Norte, across from the entrance to Kit Carson Park. It is a cozy oasis that invites visitors to enter, then encourages them to stay a while, sip a cup of tea and indulge their love of beauty.
Cassandra says: “We have tried to create a space and an atmosphere that makes people feel like they are treated as cherished guests by a gracious host.”
Everywhere you look in this neatly packed shop you will find something intriguing. Over the past eight years, Cassandra and David have built up an inventory of thousands of items that appeal to the eclectic tastes of their patrons. Local pottery, photographs and drawings sit comfortably among folk art and Tibetan religious art, as well as tableware, teapots, incense, handmade paper and cooking utensils from Japan.
Throughout Wabi-Sabi you will see the quiet aesthetic of simple, natural beauty and function. The incenses have been selected carefully; none of them will trouble people with chemical sensitivities. Sturdy porcelain and iron teapots promise years of service. There are over 50 flavors of teas, all with amazing qualities and tastes. Candles come in many shapes and sizes, carefully crafted by a Vietnamese candle maker
“Ninety percent of our customers are local,” says Cassandra, “and most of our items cost less than $30. We gear the shop to locals. We owe our success to the diverse and open-minded people who make Taos special.”
When Cassandra was three years old, her family moved to Taos and settled in Arroyo Hondo. Her mother, Tish Demmin, was a midwife; and her father, Jonathan Gordon, was a woodworker and theater director. Cassandra has lived virtually her entire life in Taos.
David is from Michigan. After he finished college, he came to Taos for the skiing, fell in love with the mountains and the rivers, and decided to make Taos his home. After years of ski bumming and rafting, he started working with the local green builders and custom craftsmen.
About 16 years ago David and Cassandra met at a dance at the Old Martinez Hall. David soon got a winter job cooking at the Taos Inn where Cassandra was a waitress, and they got to know each other better. Three years later they were married, and now they have a little girl named Sophia.
They live in Tres Orejas, in an off-the-grid, completely solar-powered home that they built with their own hands. Their lifestyle is a simple and natural one, fitting perfectly into their backgrounds, natures and philosophies.
The idea of a store grew out of Cassandra’s dream to make a livelihood where she could express her creativity and have a nice lifestyle in Taos, while adding something of value to the community. During her formative years, Cassandra had discovered a deep affinity for the arts and crafts of Japan, and for Japanese society’s respect for the natural world. She purs