The radial turbine impeller of an exhaust turbocharger is analyzed in view of both free vibration and forced response. Due to random blade mistuning resulting from unavoidable inaccuracies in manufacture or material inhomogeneities, localized modes of vibration may arise, which involve the risk of severely magnified blade displacements and inadmissibly high-stress levels compared to the tuned counterpart. Contrary, the use of intentional mistuning (IM) has proved to be an efficient measure to mitigate the forced response. Independently, the presence of aerodynamic damping is significant with respect to limit the forced response since structural damping ratios of integrally bladed rotors typically take extremely low values. Hence, detailed knowledge of respective damping ratios would be desirable while developing a robust rotor design. For this, far-reaching experimental investigations are carried out to determine the damping of a comparative wheel within a wide pressure range by simulating operation conditions in a pressure tank. Reduced-order models are built up for designing suitable intentional mistuning patterns by using the subset of nominal system modes approach introduced by Yang and Griffin (2001, “A Reduced-Order Model of Mistuning Using a Subset of Nominal System Modes,” J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power, 123(4), pp. 893–900), which conveniently allows for accounting both differing mistuning patterns and the impact of aeroelastic interaction by means of aerodynamic influence coefficients. Further, finite element analyses are carried out in order to identify appropriate measures of how to implement intentional mistuning patterns, which are featuring only two different blade designs. In detail, the impact of specific geometric modifications on blade natural frequencies is investigated. The first part of this three-part paper is focused on designing the IM pattern. The second and third part following, later on, will address the topics (i) experimental validation after implementation of the IM pattern at rest and under rotation, and (ii) the development of an approach for fast estimating damping ratios in the design phase.