The Art of Feng Shui: The Myth and the Marvel
“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”
-Frank Lloyd Wright
It is possibly the most ancient design movement known and yet has made itself an avant-garde design craze. Although, over three thousand years old, the idea of Feng Shui has received much attention in the modern day. Surf the net or the local bookstores and you will find numerous resources on the subject. It has taken the Interior Design industry by storm and has found a way into university classrooms all over the world. It has been revered as art. It has been shunned as superstition. It is controversial, which means it is interesting. So let’s take a brief look, shall we?
What is Feng Shui?
Feng Shui (“wind-water”) is an ancient Chinese practice dealing with the arrangement of a space and its elements to bring balance to the environment and those who dwell within, more basically, living in harmony with your surroundings.
This ancient philosophy says that being in tune with the elements and energy around you will bring you the most balance in life. These elements are Earth, Fire, Water, Metal, and Wood. The energy is Ch’i (pronounced ‘chee’).
Ch’i is the life force, and it is present all around us, all of the time. The purpose of incorporating Feng Shui into our homes is to attract Ch’i and to raise positive energy levels. The Chinese have utilized this in the construction of large buildings and homes, aligning the corners of the structures with the corresponding directions of the four cardinal directions–north, south, east, and west. The ancient Chinese tended to build their homes according to the directions and meaning of each.
Astrology is incorporated as well. Depending on the individual’s year of birth, each direction has a different meaning. Those dealt with include positive directions (prime, health, longevity, prosperity, etc.) and negative directions (death, disaster, the six shar, and the five ghosts). According to the Chinese life principle, there is no getting around the negative directions. Though, it is believed that utilizing Feng Shui in your home can keep the Ch’i in balance, and the positive and negative in harmony.
How to Incorporate Feng Shui in your Space
In this day and age, not many of us have the option of choosing our land so freely, as we have settled down or dwell in apartment buildings. However, with some help, we can very well pick up and turn our homes to suit our individual Ch’i. This is where Feng Shui designers have found their calling. Placement of furniture, certain deco, as well as color use, are considered imperative factors in the Feng Shui culture.
Here are a few interesting and random examples:
- Move the bed to face your health and longevity direction.
- Always have a bed against one wall, as this gives the individual stability.
- The oven and the sink should have space between them, as they represent opposing elements; water and fire.
- The living room is the central gathering room and where most families spend their time. Try to put the main area of focus (television, sound system) in the corner that represents health. This way, when the family lounges together, they are facing a positive direction.
- The Chinese believed that no matter how big the family, there should always be at least eight chairs at the dining table. If more or less, the number must always be even.
- – Face the desk that you work at towards your creative direction.
Decorations and Accessories:
- If one of your positive directions lies in the South, and there is a Southern wall with no window in your home, add a mirror. This gives Ch’i room to flow with no ending point.
- The bathroom of your home is the place for Ch’i to pool–and in its most negative environment. Bathrooms are typically small and are associated with destruction. Mirrors and house plants should be abundant in this area.
- The living room or bedroom are good places for oil paintings and art, as these are objects of prosperity.
- The study, or the area where you do so, should be filled with objects of creativity. Fill the area with artwork, pottery, and house plants. If there is no window above your desk, guess? Add a mirror!
- Round objects represent money. So, in the living room, and study, try round rugs, tables, and coasters.
- Wind chimes, wind chimes, wind chimes! Anything associated with the wind will help Ch’i flow freely.
The central colors of importance to Feng Shui include green, red, yellow, white, and black. Although the meaning and directional significance of each differs depending on your source, each color represents one of the five elements (Earth, Fire, Water, Metal, Wood).
- It is important that the color of your bedroom correlate with your element. Mine is water, which seems to be associated with white or blue.
- The kitchen is the one place in the house most susceptible to hazard. Green is the safest color to use here.
- The study is an important area for free air and open-mindedness. Yellow or white will keep the area amicable.
For more information on color use, check out our post Quick Guide to Color Effects and Meanings.
Whether or not you take the ancient art of Feng Shui on board, it is quite an impressive subject as well as vastly immense–I have only just touched the bare minimum here. Aside from the apparent mysticism, its principles touch upon the chic mannerism of modern design as well. More and more designers and clients are designing with meaning and with spirituality. In my opinion, this is wonderful!
Every type of art has spiritual roots and meaning–it’s the artist that makes it distinct. As always, my best design advice is to understand what touches you and manifest it into your space. Peace be with you and may your Ch’i flow free!