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Feng Shui (pronounced fung shway) is the Chinese art of creating harmonious spaces. The creation of these harmonious spaces is based on laws that come from both astronomy (heaven) and geology (earth). By following these laws, practitioners believe they can create spaces that are beneficial to live in, and that may even increase the health, luck, and overall good fortune of those that use them.
While Feng Shui can be applied to urban planning, architecture, and landscaping, it is probably best known in the Western world for its principles of room design and furniture placement. Feng Shui interior design is highly sought to create interesting retail spaces, improve the aesthetics of offices, and even shape more interesting and comfortable living spaces. It is practiced by both professional and amateur interior designers, with numerous books, webpages, and seminars devoted to the subject matter.
One of the primary concepts of Feng Shui interior design is energy. Practitioners of Feng Shui call this energy Qi, or Chi. Feng Shui interior design attempts to direct, retain, and channel this energy in a way that is most beneficial to those using the room. This can be done by the placement of objects at different compass locations or by using furniture made of specific types of material.
The five elements are another important concept in Feng Shui. It uses the five phases known as Wu Xing. These are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each element is also loosely associated with a color, with Wood being associated with green, Fire associated with red, Earth with yellow, Metal with white, and Water with black or blue. By placing objects made of these materials in a specific room or by painting certain areas with an elemental color, a Feng Shui interior designer attempts to alter and improve the energy of the room for those that use it.
Directions are also extremely important when it comes to Feng Shui interior design. Feng Shui has eight basic directions, four that are considered primary and four that are secondary. These eight directions are South, Southeast, East, Northeast, North, Northwest, West, and Southwest. Each direction is also associated with an element. South is Fire; Southeast and East are Wood; Northeast and Southwest are Earth; West and Northwest are Metal; and North is Water. By using a compass and an octagonal device known as a Pa Kua, someone practicing Feng Shui interior designer can choose which items and colors belong in what locations.
Not all practitioners of Feng Shui agree on every idea or placement. This is due to their being many centuries worth of texts and teachings on the subject, as well as different interpretations and schools of thought. While a designer in one school of thought might think a room is perfectly balanced, another might consider it to have bad Feng Shui and need to be re-aligned.