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Tag Archives: Feng Shui

Feng shui for the rest of us

Michael J. Berens

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

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Feng shui for the rest of us

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 below, for example, they demonstrate the proper way to place the sink and stove in a kitchen.

(You can see all the illustrations and recommendations on their website, here.)

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.

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About the Author

Michael J. Berens

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 mjberensresearch@gmail.com.

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Continue reading The Future of Interior Design: Virtual Showrooms and Augmented Catalogs

Wellness By Design: Clodagh Harnesses the Senses to Heal

NEW YORK—Good design can support well-being. Interior designer Clodagh harnesses the five senses—sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch—to create moments of healing and tranquility in the design of hotels around the world.

“To me, wellness means that everything in design addresses the mind, body and spirit. From years of design and studying, we have a pretty good idea of what helps people to be well,” said Clodagh. “In hotels, it’s supremely important to focus on well-being as travel can be exhausting; our job is to make their destination—whether it is a pool, lounge or guestroom—a joy to be in.”

Clodagh and her creative team champion a design philosophy of life-enhancing minimalism. There is also an emphasis on building a space for guests to experience. Upon entering the East Miami in the Brickell City Centre in Miami, there are green hedges around the outer deck and the area mimics the feeling of being in the front yard of a residence. It’s a presentation that is at once striking and welcoming.

“We have seven beautiful chandeliers from a Haitian artisan outside the front door. It’s a huge, covered canopy made of wood. You have the green grounding it and incredible crystals hanging off the chandelier, which references the past and future,” said Clodagh.

Another tenet of good design is the ability to appeal to all people in different ways. For Clodagh and her design team, every step of the guest’s journey has to be special. To integrate wellness into the aesthetics, healing arts are employed.

“To do that, we have this giant toolbox of consultants and, in the more spiritual sense, we tap into the teachings of bio-geometry, Feng Shui, color chromatherapy, and scour images that date back to ancient Egyptians for inspiration,” she said. “We work with texture and smoothness. You can’t have light without shadow.”

It’s not all spiritual or introspective; there are moments of fun and whimsy in the hospitality designs Clodagh brings forth.

“We’ll use tumbled limestone for a wall, so it looks ancient. And, we like to provide people with selfie moments. It’s the best way to get the word out for the hotel, so it’s helping everybody,” she said.

When leaving a property she’s designed, Clodgah hopes guests will take with them a feeling a joy and respite.

“It’s nice to create a design that evokes our curated, very carefully minimal but comfortable ethos,” she said. “We always say it’s nice if someone says when they walk into the lobby and go ‘ahhh’ or as they enter the guestroom a deep sigh of relief comes after a long journey.”

Continue reading Wellness By Design: Clodagh Harnesses the Senses to Heal

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Continue reading Hacks for arranging your bedroom!

Hacks for arranging your bedroom

Home is where the heart is, the adage goes — but what if home doesn’t feel quite as homey as you’d like? According to all the experts I spoke to, the most important part of any home is the bedroom. A bedroom is meant to be a space where you can relax, recharge, and let the stresses of the day melt right off your back, but if it feels like just a random space that you happen to sleep in, that pervasive feeling of “meh” can infuse other areas of your life too. So, if the bedroom is that important, what are some hacks for arranging your bedroom so that it feels like a sanctuary?

Continue reading Hacks for arranging your bedroom

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