The phrase Zen is a commonly used word within the design field. However, in my opinion, Zen Design is not the same as Spiritual Zen.
Design Zen is often characterised by austere design forms that are somewhat similar to Minimalism. It is moreso a design language and an approach to design styling.
On the other hand, Spiritual Zen is an offshoot of a Buddhist practice that originated from China. The term Zen is a Japanese word. Spiritual Zen is a system of practice towards Enlightenment.
The essence of Spiritual Zen cannot be encapsulated into and by a design approach or movement. The essence of Enlightenment is beyond Symbolism. To illustrate the point, Koan is a practice employed within Spiritual Zen. It is a system designed to break the practitioner from the binding and conditioning power of words and concepts. It is meant to free us from the world of Symbolism.
Design Zen itself is a form of Symbolism. As such Design Zen and Spiritual Zen are not the same. They are mutually non-exclusive.
Thank you for reading 🙂