Zero Mass Design – A Strategy for Designing a Better Future

by David D. Thornburg

Zero Mass Design was conceived by Dr. David Thornburg while teaching a class in the philosophy of design at Stanford University.

Zero Mass Design is a novel approach to Design Thinking that approaches design with simplicity as its fundamental goal. This slim but impactful book lays out the principles of Zero Mass Design and adds much more. Inside you will find practical examples, problem solving steps, and a call to action to save the planet with functional designs that rely on simplicity and clarity, not increasing complexity. The book also includes an invitation to K-12 teachers on how design can increase relevance and student engagement in any curricular area.

“I commend this important book as an original and powerful approach to problem solving. I hope that it will have as much influence on you as it had on me.” —Steven J. Paley, inventor, entrepreneur, and the author of The Art of Invention

Albert Einstein said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” The principles of Zero Mass Design can guide teachers and students towards this goal. With inspiration from design pioneer Buckminster Fuller, the Bauhaus Movement, and designs from across the world, this book is a helpful companion to anyone seeking to improve their design skills with an eye towards elegant functionality.

David Thornburg’s own patents, designs, and design inspirations provide real world validation of the concept of Zero Mass Design.

“David Thornburg is one of the giants in the history of educational computing. This timeless book may be small but it packs a big punch.” – Gary Stager, PhD

David Thornburg is the author of many popular books supporting modern education including The Invent to Learn Guide to 3D Printing: Recipes for SuccessLearning to Code – An Invitation to Computer Science Through the Art and Patterns of Nature (Snap! and Lynx Editions)From the Campfire to the Holodeck: Creating Engaging and Powerful 21st Century Learning Environments, and many more.

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Book information


  • MSRP $15.95 USD paperback
  • 103 pages, black & white
  • Publisher: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-1-955604-08-6
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches


  • MSRP $27.95 USD paperback
  • 103 pages
  • Publisher: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-1-955604-09-3
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches