Two things homeowners can’t get enough of are energy and time. To help maximize the number of minutes in their day, homeowners are opting for simple, contemporary, low-maintenance designs outfitted with multitasking areas and time-saving amenities such as coffee bars and smart appliances.
When it comes to energy — human, that is — the same principles apply. The physical environment can enhance it or conserve it. That’s where the ancient practice of feng shui can provide useful design guidance.
In a number of Asian cultures, where it has been practiced for thousands of years, feng shui is a time-honored method of harmonizing individuals with the natural and built environment that surrounds them. It involves the use of both practical and esoteric methods to determine the optimal siting for a structure, the configuration of the interior space, and the placement of certain objects, such as mirrors, in the space.
Those who ascribe to its principles believe proper feng shui can help to promote good fortune, long life, good health, happiness and wealth. Some years ago, feng shui caught the attention of the home and garden media, where it was presented mainly as a décor strategy for creating a positive environment in the home. Although the trend has subsided, it reemerges from time to time, as, for example, in a recent article in Elle Decor magazine on ways to “feng shui your home” for spring.
While it has never gained widespread acceptance within the interior design community, it continues to have its adherents and practitioners, including some interior design professionals, outside those Asian populations in which it is still routinely practiced.
Feng shui has many facets and can get quite intricate in its alignment of external and internal elements. Essentially, though, feng shui is about assessing and managing the flow of life force energy — or qi (pronounced like “chee”) — within a built space. In the words of Amy Daniewicz, who writes on home trends for the lifestyle website Popsugar, “energy flows through a room like water in a stream.”
Using a variety of strategies, feng shui seeks to maximize the presence of positive energy, qi, in the home and eliminate negative energy, sha chi. This involves preventing positive energy from escaping or flowing in the wrong direction and getting rid of stagnant and unsightly areas where negative energy can congregate.
Designers with Seattle-based home builders, American Classic Homes, recently applied these principles to the floor plan of a “typical” American home, showing some basic ways to align room layouts to maximize positive energy. In the illustration to the right, for example, they demonstrate the proper way to place the sink and stove in a kitchen.
In addition to arrangement of space and items in the home, which coincidentally helps to improve accessibility, feng shui seeks a balance and harmony of natural elements, colors and forms. Incorporating plants and daylighting, mixing woods and metals, using design to bring the outdoors indoors, and making a place for both masculine (yin) and feminine (yang) expression are all part of a feng shui approach to creating health and wellness in the home.
In short, at a basic level, feng shui is just good design. It is all about making spaces supportive and healthful for occupants. And who knows, if you apply it to your design practice, it may make you prosperous as well.
About the Author
Michael J. Berens is a freelance researcher and writer with more than 30 years of experience in association communication and management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was provided by Multibriefs.