Leonard Koren has led an enviably desultory life, first dropping out of college to paint murals with a group called the Los Angeles Fine Arts Squad and then eventually “begging”—and convincing—the UCLA Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning to admit him despite his lack of an undergraduate education in architecture.
“It was a chaotic moment in the history of the school,” explains Koren, “and the murals I’d painted were on an architectural scale and were interesting and conceptually innovative.” Upon finishing architecture school and realizing that he had neither the will nor the temperament to become an architect, Koren started making “bath art,” which grew out of an interest in unconventional bathing habits and spaces developed in college. This led him to found Wet: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing in 1976, which he produced for nearly six years. After tiring of the magazine, Koren was “sort of burnt out on everything,” and spent a good amount of time traveling through Japan. In 1984, he wrote and designed a book about Japanese fashion, New Fashion Japan, and enjoyed it so much that he continued to write books. Some of his most recent publications include Arranging Things: A Rhetoric of Object Placement, Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, and The Flower Shop: Charm, Grace, Beauty, and Tenderness in a Commercial Context.