The New York Times calls Leonard Koren “a maker of deceptively modest books about deceptively modest subjects”–his topics include gravel and sand gardens, tea ceremonies, and flower shops.
His book Wabi-Sabi, first published in 1994, is considered required reading for the thinking designer. His more recent title Which Aesthetics? is another must-read. Koren, who studied architecture at UCLA, writes: “Aesthetics is pervasive in our lives and behavior. It’s basic, it’s primal. The way we dress, style our hair, decorate our homes, prepare our food, give names to things–these are all aesthetic activities. Then there’s the novels we read, the music we listen to, the movies we view, the video games we play, the art we make and collect.”
Imperfect Publishing publishes all current Leonard Koren titles, including Wabi-Sabi. Bay Area fans, please note that Leonard will be signing his books at our upcoming San Francisco Holiday Market on December 13 at Heath.
Above: Koren’s house in Point Reyes, in Marin County, Northern California. See the whole house at the New York Times. Photograph by Paul Dyer.
Above: Koren not only writes, he also designs his own books, down to the typeface. Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers is $10.88 at Amazon.
Above: Which ‘”Aesthetics” Do You Mean?: Ten Definitions is $10.93 at Amazon.
Take a look at our current Required Reading list:
- Mr. Finch: Living in a Fairytale World
- Collected, Living with the Things You Love
- Beautifully Small: Clever Ideas for Compact Spaces
- Cultivating Garden Style
- Green Kitchen Travels
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on February 23, 2012, as part of our Wabi-Sabi Week.
Frequently asked questions
What is Wabi-Sabi?
Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic philosophy that embraces imperfection, impermanence, and authenticity in design and life.
Who is Leonard Koren?
Leonard Koren is an American artist, aesthetic theorist, and writer who has written several books on design and aesthetics, including 'Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers.'
How does Wabi-Sabi influence design?
Wabi-Sabi helps designers create objects that are simple, unpretentious, and irregular, and embraces natural materials and textures and the marks of time and use.
What are some examples of Wabi-Sabi design?
Wabi-Sabi design can be seen in objects like weathered wood, hand-formed ceramics, and faded textiles.
Does Wabi-Sabi only apply to design?
No, Wabi-Sabi can also be applied to all aspects of life, including acceptance of the imperfections and transience of things.
How can someone incorporate Wabi-Sabi into their life?
By embracing simplicity, natural materials, and the beauty of imperfection in all aspects of life, from daily routines to home decor.