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Zen and the Art of Design

August 01, 1996

Who would wear a turtle-print Zen hat or sit in a stiff Zen meditation chair if they could help it? There must be a more comfortable way to tell the world, "I let it be."

But the three-letter word seems to be catching on as a marketing hook in the design world.

"People are very much on spiritual paths and self-improvement paths," explains Kate Larramendy, director of design for Patagonia. "Zen communicates the right way of doing things. Do the right thing and the other pieces will fall into place."

A recent catalog from the Ventura-based maker of outdoorsy clothes included Zen turtle-print (abstract reptiles on "night sky") hats, pullovers and T-shirts.

Eddie Edwards, who designs a furniture line called Object out of Reno, Nev., and advertises it in Metropolis, says her Zen chair is a spiritual thing. "It's a place to be alone and quiet," she says of the plywood structure without cushions. "There is nothing busy about it, nothing so comfortable you would fall asleep. It is for thinking about important things, like where we are going and why we do what we do."

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