contributed by Joyce Kocinski, Allied Member ASID [designer / Feng Shui consultant / principal of Design In Balance]
Feng Shui (pronounced fung-SHWAY or fung-SHWEE), the Chinese art of design and placement, has become popular not only in the home design field but in the world of business as well. Why this sudden interest in a philosophy that is 5,000 years old” The promise of prosperity, happiness, and harmony in all aspects of one’s life and business. And who doesn’t want that”
Many Years Ago…
The history of Feng Shui, which means “wind and water,” began in China and Tibet thousands of years ago. The philosophy involves the study of man’s harmony with nature. For example, Chinese farmers felt that good fortune would come to those who learned to build their houses to take advantage of the best land. The placement of a house near a river was a good location, and a house on a hillside was considered favorable, whereas a house at the bottom of a hill was not.
These ideas led to the development of the Form School of Feng Shui, which centered on landforms: the shape and placement of mountains and hills, the directional flow of water, etc. Slowly, a different school of Feng Shui developed in which Chinese astrology and geographical direction (i.e., north, south, east, and west) determined the best placement of one’s home. This concept became regarded as the Compass School of Feng Shui.
In The Right Direction
As more and more people have moved to the United States from China and invested in property, the concept has taken hold more firmly. Business owners often consult Feng Shui experts before building or purchasing property to ensure the site is advantageous. They may use a Feng Shui practitioner, who uses a Chinese compass to advise business owners about the best location for a building. Donald Trump is one well-known businessman who used Feng Shui advisers when developing his properties, and as business owners see profits increase or turn around, the popularity of Feng Shui will only increase.
This same momentum is seen when interior designers and architects use Feng Shui in their residential designs. By word of mouth, clients’ satisfaction helps spread Feng Shui’s positive reputation. Its attractiveness lies partly in the fact that it does not have to involve expensive remodeling projects. Frequently, positive action can be taken merely by small adjustments such as the addition of plants, mirrors, and fountains, or the rearrangement of furniture. Its ease and affordability makes it user-friendly to a homeowner.
In With The Good, Out With The Bad
The philosophy of Feng Shui derives some of its concepts from the Chinese book of wisdom called I Ching. One of these concepts is called chi, a type of energy that flows through the inside and outside of a home. Increasing this chi energy flow to promote a balance in the home is the goal of Feng Shui.
Another concept is the Bagua (pronounced BAHG-wah), a map in the shape of an octagon with eight trigrams representing life areas: career, health, wealth, self-knowledge, fame, marriage, children, and helpful people. Feng Shui practitioners superimpose this diagram onto the floor plan of a house to help determine how the rooms or areas in the house work with these life areas.
Every area has a corresponding color and element from nature — water, wood, fire, and metal — and each hue and related element plays a specific role in the space’s layout requirements for optimal energy flow and balance. According to the Western school of Feng Shui, the Bagua should line up the career area with the front door of the home. If disharmony exists, the eight areas represented in the home can be improved through the use of objects or “cures,” such as plants, crystals, mirrors, etc.
By using the Bagua, one works toward promoting the positive flow of energy, or chi, throughout the home. People who have implemented the principles of Feng Shui often feel a difference in their home’s atmosphere. They see changes take place such as a new job, improved relationship, even unexpected money that comes into their lives.
Unblock And Realign
Even when implementing Feng Shui practices, interior designers still use basic design principles such as scale, proportion, balance, and rhythm. Also taken into close consideration and carefully incorporated are thoughtful space planning and the elimination of clutter.
In the respect of clutter, Feng Shui makes use of common sense. Often when a home is seriously messy and in disarray, there is an imbalance in at least one life area. When people hold on to objects that overtake an entire room, negative energy develops and affects their lives. Feng Shui practitioners often help people improve their career, marriage, etc., by showing someone where the energy is blocked in the home or how negative energy can be diluted.
Homework That Works For Your Home
Intuition plays an important role in Feng Shui. Whether it is an individual room or a collection of rooms, you may recognize the fact that you feel uneasy, tired, uninspired, or unproductive, but have no idea why.
Consider your home or office (or any space that you encounter frequently). Take a moment, think seriously and thoroughly, and give yourself the following test:
INTERIOR DESIGN CHECKLIST
Reflect on the following topics, and on a scale of 1–3 (1 being “needs immediate work,” 2 considered “needs some improvement,” and 3 representing “satisfactory”), rate each section, while also providing a detailed explanation of your rating choice:
- Furniture placement.
- Traffic patterns.
- Use of accessories.
- Organization of clutter.
- Balance of color and texture.
Now, take into account what feeling or mood you have when you enter your…
- Dining room.
- Living room.
- Family room.
- Master bedroom.
- Guest bedroom.
- Any other room.
Used along with the Bagua, your comments will help guide you to determine the areas in your space that can be altered for improved harmony, prosperity, and, ultimately, peace of mind. For a full explanation, hang on to your answers and examine next month’s installment, which focuses on how to implement Feng Shui theory into your design decisions. GO HERE TO READ PART 2 OF THIS ARTICLE.