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April 16
Zen design theories suggest "simple elegance" is vital

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We recently ran across an article by Co.Design, a design blog from FastCompany, and we found the content about “Zen of design” so intriguing that we just had to share it!

“Simple elegance” is – ironically – a complex concept to some. But these seven Zen principles of shibumi explain the theory well – and challenges us to approach design as the “very best of everything and nothing.”


1. Austerity - Refrain from adding what is not absolutely necessary in the first place.

2. Simplicity - Eliminate what doesn’t matter to make more room for what does.

3. Naturalness - Incorporate naturally occurring patterns and rhythms into your design.

4. Subtlety - Limit information just enough to pique curiosity and leave something to the imagination.

5. Imperfection, asymmetry - Leave room for others to co-create with you; provide a platform for open innovation.

6. Break from routine - An interruptive “break” is an important part of any breakthrough design.

7. Stillness, tranquility - Doing something isn’t always better than doing nothing.


It certainly doesn’t sound easy, but how would you apply these principles to your own work? Does one align with your personal goals more than the other? Visit Co.Design’s article to read more about shibumi and how to use this Japanese wisdom in your design work.


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