What is Mindful Design?


Mindfulness is everywhere.

As a meditation technique, to be mindful is to be powerfully present. It’s a mental state that requires discipline, stillness, awareness and acceptance. It takes practice. Being mindful is being focused on what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling in each moment. It’s paying attention to the quality of your breathing, the thoughts you are having, and the overall state of your being.

We have heard of mindful eating, mindful budgeting and mindful fitness. You expect mindfulness in a yoga class, but what about in design? Design is a combination of form and function. In an ideal design, both come together to solve a problem, and the end result appeals to our senses. How we navigate through environments, browse websites, develop brands and shape experiences requires design. And one can argue that good design is design done mindfully. So what does it mean then to be more mindful to achieve great design?



When something is designed with heightened awareness, it promotes well-being and greater satisfaction. Mindful design is paying attention to the details. It’s about anticipating and meeting unmet needs. It’s making things simple, but not simplistic. Mindfulness in design is about creating something that is harmonious rather than hurried and motivating instead of mundane.

It is often said that how you do anything is how you do everything.

It’s worthwhile to explore the creative process, and see where you can be more mindful. And where you can develop your principles for developing a more mindful design practice, and to bring in an authentic and deep sense of awareness about your work.



Nearly 50 years ago, Dieter Rams famously wrote his ten priciples for good design , which is essentially a manifesto on mindful design. As an industrial designer, Rams was responsible for the design of Braun’s consumer products for many years. These products are iconic and many are in the permanent design collection at the Museum of Modern Art. His mindful approach to design has influenced generation of designers and thinkers, including Apple.

In his view, Good design is innovative; it makes a product useful; is aesthetic, makes a product relatable; is unobtrusive; is honest; is long-lasting; is thorough to the last detail; is environmentally friendly and involves as little design as possible.

Rams, an early proponent of less is more, realized not only the need for design to solve problem beautifully and practically, but also the mindset of the creatives and their responsibility to do the right thing.

“Excessive brand consciousness has detracted from real product qualities and has led to cheap fakes and surrogates, and whether the label is real or fake has become more important than the product itself. What designers need to address, however, is the quality of their materialised ideas. So design must start with contemplation.” Damn Magazine

Contemplation is mindfulness, and bringing acute awareness to all that you’re doing. As designers creating new products, producing experiences, developing ideas, there is a need to consider the ethics and impact our work has on our bodies, our environment and our futures. We can all benefit from being more contemplative, whether you are in a creative field or not.



Next time you begin a project, ask yourself: How are you being mindful in your practice and process? What principles do you follow that help guide you?  Where can you apply more mindfulness in your work?