We were introduced to wabi-sabi some years ago when we had the great good fortune to spend a night at Kyoto's oldest and most famous inn, the 300-year-old Tawaraya. The rooms were simple, elegant, and beautifully decorated with objects showing the wear of time but still exuding a sturdy presence that demanded respect. Leonard Koren, creator of an avant garde magazine and an inveterate chronicler of Japanese culture, celebrated this kind of beauty in his book Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers.
In this new creative and thought-provoking paperback, Koren finds and celebrates another beauty in Blumenkraft, a flower shop located in Vienna. He finds that the place "combines mild urban edginess with refined bourgeois comfort." The owner believes that a good florist has to have solid, practical, arrangement-making technical skills, a good sense of humor, a distinctive sense of color and proportion, and a deep feeling for human beings. Koren introduces us to the rest of the staff and then examines the shop design in terms of acoustics, light, worktables, photo murals, and display furniture. The name of the shop means "flower power," and Koren makes it clear that it is a place where beauty is in bloom — from the arrangements that are created to the use of glass containers called "blumariums."
Through the use of black-and-white photographs, we gain a special appreciation of this place and the daily creativity that brings a little bit of enchantment into the lives of its customers and visitors. Beauty can be found anywhere — and we are grateful to Koren for helping us to see this so clearly in this paperback.