Lee Coren on travel, the appeal of deserts, and how nature is sewn into her textiles in the Store at Mia

Lee Coren always seems to be moving. Her social media is filled with scenes of foreign cities, azure oceans, and—her favorite escape—rocky deserts. It’s hard to see when she has time to work.

Yet her travels, in fact, inform her work: subtly striking, environmentally friendly handbags, backpacks, and wallets—many featuring landscapes photographed during her trips. Constructed in her studio in Tel Aviv, Israel, a limited selection is available this summer in the store at Mia, complementing Mia’s landscape painting show, “Seeing Nature,” along with the wares of four other international makers inspired by nature.

After returning from yet another trip, Coren explained how her work comes together.

Coren in her studio in Israel.

Coren in her studio in Israel.

The landscapes featured on your textiles—where are they from? Are they nearby?
The landscapes I print were all captured by me while traveling the world and so each of them tells a story close to my heart. The photos taken near home are of the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean seashore. I aim to convey the ambiance and energy of those places in the works—an inspiring sunset after a long day of hiking through the desert to the Dead Sea, a peaceful summer weekend getaway at the Mediterranean waterfront.

Your work celebrates both urban life and escapes to nature —do you find beauty in both? Do you believe they can co-exist?
I am fascinated by the tension between the two and wouldn’t have one without the other. The rhythm of the teeming city streets and the day-to-day hectic living is balanced by the open vistas and the serenity found in nature.

How do you get away? Do you take vacations or day trips?
I try to go on one long vacation a year, to be able to travel to faraway destinations, and in between I sneak in weekends away locally to exhale. Inspiration is unexpected. Sometimes I’m sure I know what I’ve set out to capture, but I return with something completely different. It usually takes me a year or more to go over travel photos. While traveling I plant the seeds of my inspiration, which bloom in time.

You’ve featured desert landscapes in particular, ecosystems that strike some people as barren or devoid of life—though of course they’re not. Why are you attracted to these places?
No doubt my great love in nature is for the desert. Other than the open sky and having the best sunsets, it is empowering and fierce. These bare scenes are brave and honest. I find purity in the desert landscape.

Your materials and process emphasize sustainability and low impact. How did you arrive at this approach?
When you travel, you get a closer look at things like the impact our lifestyles have, not only by traveling but by consuming. It’s always a priority for me to find new and better methods to reduce waste and to craft using sustainable materials. Animal and environmental protection are important values to me, and are my way of trying to make the world a better place.