Famous American interior designer Albert Hadley once said that “The essence of interior design will always be about people and how they live.” In this context, interior designers must understand the in-depth meaning of the quote. In other words, the quote implies the importance of having a design that incorporates spirit.
In this article, I would like to emphasise on “people” from the feng shui perspective. When arranging spaces, feng shui practitioners must start by studying the occupants first and then the type of personality. Finding out occupants’ needs of elements requires the date of birth, which will be converted into the four pillars (ba zi) method. Hence, the chart is readable with information on elements needed by the people. This is similar to reading personality types in the psychological approach. The difference is the four pillars method is used to adjust the layout. After obtaining the information, feng shui practitioners will begin to arrange the space to accommodate the required elements.
According to feng shui, the need for elements is very individual and cannot be applied as a whole. Thus, private spatial planning needs to be done carefully. This way, the occupants can get the most favourable arrangement results. The elements needed here are those following the five elements theory of feng shui; namely wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
The elements mentioned above follow directions according to the compass navigation related to the position of the room. For example, having a room located on the northern side with the element of water, one on the southeast side with the element of wood or one located on the western side with the element of metal, and so on. All of these elements incorporate the nuance of colours in the arranged room, including the building materials, decorative ornaments and geometrical shapes.
The nuance of orange, red and purple is said to be the element of fire, whilst the nuance of blue and black belongs to the element of water. Meanwhile, such decorative ornaments in the form of a figurine, like a bird figurine, features the element of fire. Decorative ornaments like vases have a variety of elements: metal for the one made of brass or copper, and earth for the one made of ceramic. Geometric shapes, be it in the form of circle or ball, is said to have the element of metal; and for the bent or twisted shape, it has the element of water. Meanwhile, a square or cube has the element of earth.
After studying the personality type, next is arranging the room to accommodate the occupants’ needs of elements according to feng shui. In spite of this, aesthetics, efficiency and effectiveness of space are other factors that need attention. This way, we can obtain a balanced arrangement between interior design and feng shui in the hope that residents can enhance the comfort of their lives.
The room can indeed influence the occupants in terms of their behaviour and even in their decision making. The feng shui calculation is very helpful as the guidance of having a good quality of life. The science of feng shui is related to the earth’s electromagnetic field, which exposes our everyday life. Good feng shui will bring a positive influence, including a healthier and more harmonious life. Meanwhile, bad feng shui carries disasters and obstacles that drain our energy for unnecessary things.
From here, we can see what Albert Hadley meant when he said “how they live”. We need to learn about people first before we can see how they live. Designers should not force occupants to adjust to our design. Instead, we make occupants as measurement parameters of what we want to design. The goal is to have the occupants live their life happily and productively. This can be accomplished with the suitability of our designs that matches the needs of the occupants.That is what I can share this time, be equilibrium.