How Chinese design principles can create beautiful, comfortable living spaces
Feng Shui, pronounced fung schway, means wind and water. It is an ancient discipline or art form with roots traceable to prehistoric eras. Feng Shui evidence has been found depicted in cave drawings and other early artwork. The University of Florida (Interactive Media Lab) reports the practice of Feng Shui “was first established over 6,000 years ago and is related to subjects of nature such as physics, philosophy, astronomy and astrology.”
Feng Shui basics. The basic principles of Feng Shui incorporate the concept of Yin and Yang along with the five elements. Often termed the art of placement, Feng Shui establishes harmony in your immediate surroundings through the arrangement of furniture, objects and even the selection of décor colors.
Yin and Yang. The concept of Yin and Yang revolves around duality—two sides or opposites to everything in nature, including light and dark, smooth and textured, hot and cold, or male and female. Patricia Ebrey cites the mythical Yellow Emperor in Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook, stating the “principle of Yin and Yang is the foundation of the entire universe. It underlies everything in creation.” Yin and Yang serve as a foundation Feng Shui, in particular regarding balance. Too much of any one thing may cause disharmony.
The five elements. Within Chinese philosophy, the five elements are earth, fire, metal, water and wood. The five elements in Feng Shui may also be known as the five phases or transformations. In Feng Shui, the five elements can refer to colors, shapes, compass points,seasons, body parts and even your family members, states the Feng Shui Society. The elements are used to enhance the space, encouraging harmony and balance depending on the arrangement or placement of various objects.
Incorporating Feng Shui into your living space. It’s all about balance. An all-white room trimmed in chrome may feel off-balance because it is lacking contrast and the presence of the other elements. Consider adding an all-cotton throw over a chair to add the element of wood—cotton and other natural fibers would be considered a wood element.
Represent the element of earth with color palettes using browns and greens. Textured rugs and other fabrics can bring the balance of earth into the room as well. The element of fire easily is incorporated into room design, from focal point fireplaces to candles and sconces with artificial flames. Fire also can be added without flames. Simply include fire shades such as red, orange even pink or incandescent lights.
The water element may be brought into a room through actual running water with a tabletop fountain and aquarium or through other design pieces such as flowing draperies, deep ocean blues and artwork in creative asymmetrical designs.