During the past ten years, a new trend in design and architecture has gained popularity and has become a significant force in the market. It is not a fancy design style, a sleek new material, or a revolutionary construction system. It is the ancient science of Feng Shui (pronounce Fung Shuae), and its increasing popularity necessitates an expertise that marries the traditional knowledge with contemporary sensibilities.
Although initially looked down upon by architects, designers and realtors, Feng Shui has made its way from Asia to America to Europe and back in the most effective yet underestimated way: Word of mouth.
Along with the growing interest and coverage from the press, the number of self appointed “experts” exploded. But, in many cases, their training was dubious and misguided, leading to a proliferation of questionable applications. Today, Feng Shui is associated with anything from haircuts to car design to mirrors and crystals. It’s no wonder some design professionals are skeptical, rolling their eyes when clients request to work with the dreaded “Feng Shui master”.
In nearly ten years of practice as a Feng Shui 風水擺設 consultant for architectural projects, I have worked with some architects who feared or otherwise avoided Feng Shui. Their mistrust may have stemmed from a previous unfavorable experience or some horror story from a colleague.
Having received training in architecture myself (School of Architecture of Polytechnic in Milan, Italy), I understand the architect’s perspective when designing a project, and I tailor my interventions to his or her professional skills as much as to the client’s requests.
When I first began my practice, there were no models to follow. So, I forged my own path and have since honed it down to a science.
FENG SHUI: THE MYTH
First of all there are a few myths worth unveiling when we address Feng Shui. Let’s begin with its terminology.
When most people mention “Feng Shui,” they are usually referring to a westernized version that is a conflagration of simplified design psychology, superstitions, and religious symbolism, much of which has been adopted (or invented) over the past 20 years.
When using the term “Traditional Feng Shui,” I am referring to an ancient form of geomancy, a discipline that was revered in many ancient cultures – Celtic, Egyptian, and of course Chinese – but was progressively forgotten as those ancient civilizations disappeared or evolved.
The Chinese geomancy was preserved through elite scholarship. Only well educated scholars were allowed to study and practice it, and only those of high social class were able to use it.
Traditional Feng Shui was developed over about 5,000 years. It is composed of several theories and addresses multiple applications, including timing of construction, building orientation, and design and decoration. An extremely dynamic science, it also considers compatibility between the building and the occupants.
This takes us to the second myth that I’d like to address: the certified Feng Shui master.
To acquire enough knowledge and experience to qualify as an expert requires years, especially when working with architectural projects, which are exponentially more complex than the decorating of an apartment, for example. The title “Feng Shui master” was originally bestowed only upon individuals who practiced for 10 years or more. And, the title “Grand Master” was reserved for those individuals with at least 25 years of experience.