Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Required Reading: Wabi-Sabi by Leonard Koren


Required Reading: Wabi-Sabi by Leonard Koren

October 31, 2014

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.

640 koren house point reyes

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.

Required Reading WabiSabi by Leonard Koren portrait 4

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.

Required Reading WabiSabi by Leonard Koren portrait 5

Above: Which ‘”Aesthetics” Do You Mean?: Ten Definitions is $10.93 at Amazon.

Take a look at our current Required Reading list:

N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on February 23, 2012, as part of our Wabi-Sabi Week.

(Visited 770 times, 1 visits today)
You need to login or register to view and manage your bookmarks.

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.

Product summary  

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation