Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Feng Shui

What is it?

Modern furniture design frequently uses clean and direct lines like the simple curve in this Arco Lamp. Bold contours are an effective way of directing and guiding the human eye. Interior designers take account of dominant lines in order to give the impression of harmony or direction within a room.

Customizing space to our optimum comfort is as old as furniture, but long before modern designs appeared there was a formalized method for this called Feng Shui.

Feng Shui originated in China as a philosophical method for harmonizing a person with his or her environment. It is richly intertwined with metaphysical and occult concepts, but in its most popular and westernized form, it is essentially a method for influencing the “vibes” we get from the spaces within which we live.

The vibes, so to speak, are to do with the state of what the Chinese call Qi. Think of Qi as the life-force or unseen energy we encounter in the world and you’ll have a rough understanding of the idea. A good flow of Qi is thought to provide a harmonious environment for people to live in. While this may seem a bit superstitious to some, the benefits of Feng Shui can be very practical. If we are able to move easily through a room or to enjoy a gracefully executed aesthetic it is not unlikely that the place we are visiting is the home or office of a Feng Shui practitioner.

There are "elements" in Feng Shui which correspond to compass points and colours. Knowing these associations and invoking them is the essence of practicing Feng Shui. A simple version is as follows:

The FIRE element is believed to invoke passion, high levels of energy and prosperity. The directions which most favour the element are the Southern, Southwestern and Northeastern parts of the home or office. Its colours are Red, Yellow, Orange, Purple and Pink.

The EARTH element has to do with stability, protection and nourishment. Its favoured directions are Northeast and Southwest and its associated colours are Sandy hues, Light Yellow and Beige.

The METAL element encourages clarity, precision, and efficiency. It is dominant in areas facing West and Northwest and possesses an affinity for Grey and White.

WATER is the element of ease, purity and freshness. It is powerful in the North and somewhat in the East and Southeast. Blue and Black are its colours.

Finally, WOOD is the element of health, healing and growth. It corresponds best to Eastern and Southeastern portions of the home or office and its colours are Brown and Green.

 The symbolic importance of both colour and direction means that Feng Shui has a lot to do with order and planning. We already understand this on an intuitive level. When was the last time someone told you that they find a chaotic mess to be soothing or harmonious?

With that in mind, we can understand clutter as a barrier to the proper flow of Qi. Modern furniture replicas are a great way to bring clear, directional lines to your home or office. They typically consist of angles and shapes which allow the eye –and Qi— to flow unimpeded.

Modern Living Room and Furniture
Note the flow of dominant lines and the ordering of colours.

 Which Feng Shui elements best fit your life at home or in the office? Looking over some modern replicas is a good place to start. This Knoll Armchair is available in the Red of the FIRE element or in Black, which corresponds to the purity of WATER.

If you are feeling more versatile, the Nelson Bench comes in the Sandy hue associated with EARTH.

Experiment and explore your options. Remember, good Feng Shui comes from planning.

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