Developing biological structures are highly complex systems, within which a robust and efficient information transfer must happen to coordinate several dynamical processes. Through a reformu-lation of cytokinesis in terms of its energetic cost, we propose that oriented cell divisions are one mechanism by which cells can read and react to mechanical forces propagating in a tissue even in the absence of cellular strain. This view can at once account for the standard geometrical rules for cell division, as much as the known systematic deviations from them. Our results suggest the existence of a shape-dynamics to cell-division feedback loop, consisting in the competition between local and long-range mechanical signals. The consequences of this competition are explored in simulated tissues and confirmed in vivo during the epidermal morphogenesis of ascidian embryos.