Silicon Valley, arts & meditation

Feature story: Maximizing Life with Minimalism – from Silicon Valley to the Arts and Mediation Realms

Minimalism is the concept of minimizing distractions from what’s truly valuable or essential.

The qualities of minimalism in the arts and design induce a state of meditation, concentration, mindfulness and transcendence. It has been an ideal of some of the great thinkers through the ages.

Below are a minimal number of visuals and words that touch on these ideas.

Silicon Valley

Steve Jobs

Jobs’ creativity was connected to his belief in the value of intuition, authenticity, and devotion to zen Buddhism meditation practice and eastern spiritual philosophies. He was a serious, diligent practitioner who undertook lengthy meditation retreats at Tassajara, the first Zen monastery in America, located at the end of a twisting dirt road in the mountains above Carmel, spending weeks on end “facing the wall,” as Zen students say, to observe the activity of his own mind. (1) The picture below by photojournalist Diana Walker, was taken on December 15, 1982 at Job’s home in Cupertino, California.

_web1982_steve_jobs_by_davca_d4edqnxJobs’ meditation practice influenced his process of synthesizing complex ideas and philosophies into Apple products that are a simple, logical, beautiful and ubiquitous part of daily life.

iPhone-6-iPhone-6-Plus-Photos-web1000Paola Antonelli, MoMA’s Senior Curator of Design and Architecture explains “Design allows science and technology to become part of people’s lives. Without it there would be too much distance between progress and reality, and so progress would be useless.”

Jobs thought of computers as “bicycles for the mind,” to get where you wanted to go, and eventually the terrain available for exploration included the entire global network. (2)

The Internet is going to disappear

According to Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, extraneous gadgets will be eliminated and the internet communication will be integrated into things. Seamless interfaces that minimize time needed to measure health and make financial transactions will improve efficiency and outcomes. Schmidt says “There will be so many IP addresses… so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it.”

Minimalism breeds in Silicon Valley: the Sharing Culture

Simplify life, do more with less, minimize your stuff…

UBER enables people using the company’s mobile app and their own cars to earn money without the complication of taxi industry costs and regulations. It calls its service “everyone’s private driver” and offers riders “time, value, and convenience – you can have it all.”

AIRBNB is “the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions…. who discover and book unique accommodations around the world – online or from a mobile phone.”

GOOGLE STREET VIEW + OCULUS RIFT = travel around the world with no carbon footprint.

The Arts

Minimalist art and music are characterized by repetitive mesmerizing patterns that bring focus to the moment and induce a meditative state.

John F. Simon, Jr. HD Traffic, 2010
John talks about how meditation influences his creative process …video here.
He developed a kind of contemplative daily drawing practice to search for the source of creativity. His 14 years of drawings:

Steve Reich’s Piano Counterpoint, 2011 for piano and technology performed by Vicky Chow. Read more

A list of all famous minimalist visual and performing artists, architects and designers, by Dutch minimalist researcher Maarten P. Kappert.


The CityHome

This ultra-efficient responsive urban home provides a hardware and software ecosystem for personal space customization. It was developed by Kent Larson’s Changing Places Research Group at MIT.

Shigeru Ban Japanese architect, Pritzker Laureate

Ban uses existing materials, such as cardboard tubes, rather than complex manufacturing of materials that create environmental waste. Ban’s design links to the geometric flowing construction of sequences that bring about meditative and minimalist aspects as in the music of Steve Reich.

Aspen Art Museum, Colorado, USA, 2014

Temporary paper shelter constructed at Daanbantayan, Cebu, Philippines, following the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, November 2013

Shigeru Ban received the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 2014. Read more
Shigeru Ban Architects website 


Chinese high fashion designer and artist Qiuhao creates a soulful long-term connection between a garment and its wearer. His designs have a minimalist timeless quality and are a means to succeed years of trends.

Google ChromeScreenSnapz002

Do you see the flickering light?

I have been running all the way and I think it’s time to slow down. Let others race ahead if they win – but I’d rather give it up. As time flies, win or lose – all is rendered meaningless. I slowed my steps for the beautiful things while you raged on and missed the beautiful moments.

The flickering light – do you see it?

732x902web_QIUHAOQuihaoArtweb01_Untitled, 2013, from solo show The Moment of Existence, AroundSpace Gallery, Shanghai 

Quihao’s website

Slow fashion values and practice of the “less is more” philosophy involves paying producers more for higher quality, longer-lasting garments, and caring more intimately about sustainable practices and a garment’s origin and path to purchase.

Qiu Hao, Ma Ke, Uma Wang, and Wang Yiyang are Chinese high fashion designers who, in various ways, approach their work mindfully, engendering the sustainable view and practice that needs to proliferate in China and the world. Read more


Healing traumatic stress and raising performance in at-risk populations

David Lynch is an American film and television director, visual artist, musician, actor, and author. He founded the David Lynch Foundation in New York City that teaches and promotes transcendental meditation (T.M.), a form of contemplation in which the mind, released by the repetition of a mantra, becomes calm and creative.

meditation-schools1000-webT.M. is the answer for all seeking true inner happiness, Lynch told the New York Times. “Things like traumatic stress and anxiety and tension and sorrow and depression and hate and bitter, selfish anger and fear start to lift away. And that’s a huge sense of freedom when that heavy weight of negativity begins to lift. So it’s like gold flowing in from within and garbage going out. The things in life that used to almost kill you, stress you, depress you, make you sad, make you afraid – they have less and less power. It’s like you’re building up a flak jacket of protection. You’re starting to glow with this from within.”

Scientific studies have documented the effectiveness of meditation in improving learning and health, and helping veterans alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder. The foundation works with low-performing public schools to institute “Quiet Time,” an elective 10 minutes twice a day during which students meditate.

In his book, “Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity,” Lynch writes that through meditation he is grappling with such questions as “Where do ideas come from?” and “How can I nurture creativity?”

The David Lynch Foundation website


Juliette-Johns-web1000“Minimalism is the concept of minimizing distractions from what’s truly valuable or essential.
Maarten P. Kappert, “Understanding Minimalism

“Doing more with less.”
Hailed as “one of the greatest minds of our times,” R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) was renowned for his comprehensive perspective on the world’s problems. For more than five decades, he developed pioneering solutions that reflected his commitment to the potential of innovative design to create technology that does “more with less” and thereby improves human lives.

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.”
from “The Laws of Simplicity – Design, Technology, Business, Life” by John Maeda, business leader, artist, graphic designer, computer scientist, former director MIT Media Lab

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Leonardo DaVinci

“Simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run.”
Henry Thoreau to H.G.O. Blake, March 27, 1848

Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be out delight,
Till be turning, turning we come round right.
Nineteeth-century Shaker song