Born in New York, raised in Los Angeles, Koren currently resides in San Francisco. While a teenager, Koren designed and built a full-scale Japanese tea house out of scavenged materials. He was awarded an undergraduate fellowship to pursue experiments in photographic process at UCLA. While at school he worked as an exhibition installer at the university's fine arts and ethnographic museums. In 1969 Koren quit school and co-founded the Los Angeles Fine Arts Squad, a troupe l'oeil mural painting group that executed large-scale outdoor commissions in Los Angeles and Paris. One of the murals, Beverly Hills Siddhartha, covered 500 square meters and took a year to complete. Tired of painting, he applied and was admitted to the graduate school of architecture at UCLA. He received a master's degree in architecture and urban planning. Koren also consults about design, aesthetic, and communications-related issues for companies large and small, including Condé Nast, General Mills, American Standard, Shiseido, Panasonic, Toto, Axel Vervoordt, Sowden Design, and others.
Trained as an artist and architect, writes books about design and aesthetics. Among his most popular books are Wabi-Sabi and Arranging Things. He lives in San Francisco.