Mindful by Design

Irene Au is a digital designer who has spent more than two decades bringing empathy to the internet.

Photographs by Blake Farrington

Irene Au is a digital designer who has spent more than two decades bringing empathy to the internet. With her background in human–computer interaction, Au and her design teams have crafted user-friendly digital experiences for leading web service providers. In her work, Au has posed and re-posed one fundamental question: “How do we design experiences that work the way people work?” During six years at Google, Au managed a team of 300 designers and researchers. Currently, she is an operating partner for a Bay Area venture capital firm, Khosla Ventures.

Introduced to yoga and meditation when she was a teenager in South Carolina, Au didn’t establish a consistent practice until 2009, when, with a stressful executive role at Google, young children, and a struggling first marriage, she returned to yoga in search of physical well-being. The benefits for her body and emotional life were palpable and profound. Determined to maintain and deepen her practice, Au enrolled in a teacher-training program. Now, three mornings a week before work, she teaches yoga at a studio in Palo Alto. Au’s grounding in yoga and meditation has reframed her thinking about technology, design, leadership, and business.

Victoria Dawson: Let’s start with design. Why does…

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About the author

Victoria Dawson

Victoria Dawson is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC. She regularly contributes to Mindful.