Author Leonard Koren trained as an artist and an architect and has had a longtime fascination for the bath. He founded and published cult magazine WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing in the late seventies and went on to write several small books on large topics (Wabi Sabi, for instance).
Koren says his interest in bathing began when he was nine years old. "An uncle took me to a Russian-Jewish bathhouse in Manhattan that was as close to the classical Roman tradition of bathing as anything then available in the US. I was awed by the fascinating bathing rituals, the exotic food, the general conviviality of the clientele, and the dark quiet room that was available for resting. Years later, while an undergraduate at university, I began visiting all the rustic hot springs along the California coast: Esalen, Tassajara, Sespe, for instance. The sensorial magic of these environments ignited my adult imagination."
His book Undesigning the Bath is a compelling look at this simple daily ritual, and is, in his own words "a paean to earthy, sensual, and animistic environments."
N.B.: Koren just published Making WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing; $29.85 from Amazon.
Above: Koren's home in Point Reyes, California; photo by Paul Dyer for the New York Times.
Above: Though it's no longer in print, new copies of Undesigning the Bath can be purchased for $40 at Imperfect Publishing.
Above: If the former seems too erudite, How to Take a Japanese Bath is a simple guide with manga-style drawings $9.95 at Amazon.