Finding Zen Design in Chicago

The city of Chicago is unfolding Zen Living to me each and every day. Throughout my travels it is a thread that not only connects the similarity of Zen Living designs with other like minded people, but it is a channel for the energies that make us all one.

As a designer, I have discovered that those that embrace Zen living in their designs, are connected to a clean, simple design concept that avoids distractions yet gives an appreciation of life and allows  time to continue to give to others. The city of Chicago is filled with philanthropic people.... and those with an energy that wake up in the morning to give. It breathes that less is more.

They don't just look at the surface, they look within. They are doctors, teachers, artists and businesses that encompass their entire company with simplifying their lifestyle and making a difference for our planet. They don't look at just the flower in the vase, or the stones on the roof top patio... they see the roots,  they honor the branches and they feel the collective energy of living in the Zen light.

Living out in the suburbs, I was at first challenged to seek like minded people in the city of Chicago. Living on two acres on the river, I thought that it would be difficult  to discover Zen in the city. Every step I take, every design meeting I attend, whether I am on the streets in Lincoln Park, or  inside the Merchandise Mart, every home I am honored to walk into... has welcomed me into their Zen Living. In a structure, it is the empty spaces that complete the environment. It is in the void, where the tall windows rise up and the sleek door opens, that light fills the space.

I experienced a beautiful condo in Chicago recently that windows looked out to the newly planted Zen moss garden. Instead of stones, the designer selected moss, to embrace an organic zen design which will become fully green. An authentic Japanese rake is placed along with the vertical sculpture at the far end of the balcony garden. The black bamboo railing is seen throughout the balcony and invites the viewer to step out of the home into a peaceful and tranquil essence of nature.

It is not just in homes in Chicago that I am finding Zen living. I have been fortunate to work with companies that truly embrace holistic, organic and simplifying business concepts that are not only "green" but what I would describe as BLUE.... truly making a difference for our planet. From space planning, to sustainability in modular design, our world is becoming Zen.

In the now, I continue my awakening with discovering the people and places in Chicago that I can share with all of you that embrace Zen Living. With Zen and the arts... the world is within us. There is no need to travel to far off places to find inspiration. In Zen, we create by just being. You cannot describe Zen, you have to experience it. Zen is a way of living, and is living and breathing in our very own city here in Chicago.


Love & Light...



Next Week's ChicagoNow Blog:  Zen Living plays in the DIRTT

Photos: MaryEllen Malinowski, Infrared Light International - copyright 2012

Photo permission given by:  DIRTT Environmental Solutions,


Leave a comment

  • ChicagoNow is full of win

    Welcome to ChicagoNow.

    Meet our bloggers,
    post comments, or
    pitch your blog idea.

  • Advertisement:
  • Fresh Chicago News

  • Meet The Blogger

    MaryEllen Malinowski

    Zen Living by design is a division of Infrared Light International, a lifestyle design company that enlightens, educates and empowers clients to connect with living an extraordinary life based on the simple elements of nature, water, light and tranquility. Founded by MaryEllen Malinowski in 1994, The Infrared Light Gallery®’s success is based on eastern art, lifestyle, designs, travel and international design concepts that make people’s homes, business and personal well being reflect a simplified Zen Living. "M" is an international award winning fine art infrared photographer, published author, Japanese garden designer and Executive Director of The Koi Whisperer Sanctuary & Japanese Gardens in St. Charles, Illinois. MaryEllen's fine art infrared prints have sold at Sotheby's in New York, and her lifetime dedication to Asian design has developed into her creations of mesmerizing Japanese Garden designs and water gardens that can be found in estate homes and properties in the U.S. MaryEllen's dedication to Living Art, The Nishikigoi of Japan ( Koi) has opened up to an international mission of Koi Keeping. A lifetime pursuit of developing a magazine is in the works and Zen Living by design Magazine will be coming Spring 2015.

  • Latest on ChicagoNow

  • Advertisement: