• People's environment
    determines their behaviour.

    The architecture and design would have to use that effect much more strongly,
    in order to stimulate the 'right' working mode among employees.
    (Birgit Gebhardt, CIO magazine)

Creation of healthy work spaces through Feng Shui

Feng Shui (which translates as wind and water) is a Daoist theory of harmony that illustrates the influence of landscapes and spaces on our lives. The aim of this 5000-year-old empirical science is to bring people into harmony with their environment. Feng Shui was practiced in Imperial China for centuries and is believed to be responsible for the economic rise of Hong Kong and Taiwan in our times. Its teachings are firmly anchored in the minds of 1.3 billion people in Asia and is increasingly being used in Europe to harmonise living and office spaces.

Qi and the principle of Yin & Yang

The universal Qi is a subtle energy that flows through the human body and its environment. The flow of energy is the most important factor that has to be taken into account when designing living and working spaces: the Qi (female) attracts oxygen (male), and their union creates cosmic life energy.

The primal forces and dual opposites Yin (peace) and Yang (activity) are expressions of this energy. They always appear together and cause the variety of appearances within the material world. Yin and Yang should ideally be in balance, as an excess of a force has an unfavourable effect.

An example: plain shapes, metal, glass and straight lines represent the Yang aspect (activity). An excess can lead to restlessness or a lack of concentration. The balance is achieved by emphasising the counterforce – hence the yin aspect (calm) – for example by rounding off lines and using soft fabrics or thick carpets.

Ideally, the energy should circulate throughout the room and be available to people. A vivid comparison says that "just as acupuncture regulates the Qi flow in the body and releases existing blockages, the art of Feng Shui optimises and promotes the Qi flow in our living spaces".

 

The flow of energy – energy is everything and everything is energy

Energy wants to flow freely. In our houses, it primarily enters the rooms through the doors and mostly escapes through the windows. As a stream in its natural river bed winds through the landscape in many swings, the energy should flow in every room and supply all areas with vitality. Because the higher the energy content of a living space, the more vital the people who live and work in it feel.

In many modern offices, the door and window are directly opposite each other, the Qi flowing in through the door quickly escapes through windows or glass walls instead of circulating in all areas of the office. Corners of rooms, where stagnant energy accumulates, are also often undersupplied with Qi. This kind of stagnant energy is also generated in excessively crowded room areas, in rooms without windows or in rooms that are rarely used.

In order to optimise the flow of energy within the office area, a number of measures are used, such as the targeted arrangement of desks or the setting up of room dividers and large plant pots. It is not uncommon for impressive fountains or water features to be used in the outer entrance area of large company buildings, which are supposed to have a positive effect on the quality of the incoming energy. In addition, water is a symbol of the flow of money and prosperity.

Desk

It deserves special attention because we spend a large part of our working time there. It goes without saying that a well-organised, tidy desk  promotes efficient and concentrated work. It is imperative that only those objects which are in daily use remain on the desk.

As part of a Feng Shui consultation, aspects such as shape and material are also examined more closely. Basically, regardless of professional orientation, a wooden desk is always preferable to a glass desk, as the desk represents the stability of the company.

Analogously to this approach, extremely solid desks made of natural stone can indicate a lack of flexibility and immobility – aspects that can lead to a competitive disadvantage in times of rapid change. Round, oval or kidney-shaped table shapes are particularly suitable for creative work. For professions that follow clear guidelines and structures (accountants, tax consultants, lawyers, etc.), rectangular table tops are a good choice.

The position of the desk in the room

The ideal setup would permit a good view of the front door of the office facing a window and with a solid wall at the user's back.

The seat with a door at the back is the worst in the room, it often leads to nervousness and loss of concentration. Sitting with your back to the corner of the room or in a direct door-window line is also to be avoided; here it is necessary to move the desk or slow down the flow of energy by breaking the door-window line with the help of a room divider or a plant.

High cabinets near the desk should be avoided as they are overwhelming for the person sitting in front of them; half-height sideboards are non-critical. If the position of the desk is accompanied by a direct view of the wall of the room, attaching a vision board or a lively, room-opening picture is recommended, as creativity and motivation suffer in the long term without a stimulating view.

An important factor when deciding where to position the desk in the room is the backing. If there is no solid wall at the user's back (e.g. if it is made of glass, as is often the case in modern buildings), this deficiency can be compensated by dense, bushy plants. A lack of backing within the room can also be "cured" by setting up stable room dividers. However, a solid wall should always be preferred as backing.

Plants in the office

Plants not only bring life and colour to office spaces, they also serve as air purifiers. The following types of plants are particularly suitable for this:

Peace lily, peperomy, goosefoot and dwarf banana plants as well as the golden pothos.

In general, plants are often used in Feng Shui to optimise the Qi flow. An example: in long corridors, the rapidly flowing Qi can be slowed down by setting up plant pots, possibly with suitable lighting. This significantly improves the energy supply to the outward office space.

Wall protrusions and furniture corners have an unfavourable effect on the energy of the room, as they shoot energetic arrows through the room, so to speak: they can be concealed and harmonised with plants.

Basically, plants should fit the size of the room and not overload it. They must be looked after carefully and regularly, because sick and dried-up plants have a negative effect on the atmosphere in the room.

The five elements and the power of colours

Everything and everyone – people, points of the compass, objects, etc. – can be assigned to one of the five elements that are valid in Feng Shui:

wood, fire, earth, metal, water

Each element appears in different ways: as colour, shape, material, structure, time of day or season.

Colours can change the atmosphere in our rooms. Their influence on the people living / working in a given room is enormous: orange and red tones (fire, yang polarity) support activity and vitality. Earth and natural tones (earth, Yin polarity) have a slowing, calming effect. Grey, white and metallic colours (metal, Yin polarity) stand for inspiration and clarity. Blue and black (water, Yin polarity) promote orientation towards goals, and flexibility. Green tones (wood, yang polarity) stand for growth, confidence, harmony and health.

If elements come together (e.g. the element of the room coming together with the element of furnishings and people), they can influence each other favourably or unfavourably. One goal of Feng Shui is to create a balance between the elements and, for example, to harmonise the element of the human being with the element of the room.

Determination of the spatial element using the system of 8 trigrams

The teaching of the eight trigrams (sections) comes from the book of changes, the I Ching.

A Feng Shui analysis based on the compass school is complex. There follows a short summary of the procedure to be followed in order to gain an initial insight into the elements in the room or building and the person.

The following order is essential:

Compass direction             Element
South Fire
North Water
East Wood
West Metal
NW Metal
SW Earth
NE Earth
SE Wood

1. The room

The direction of view of the building is determined by measuring the compass in the area of the entrance door (looking outwards). Opposite it (+ 180 °) is the sitting position, which determines the house trigram.

Based on the 8 trigrams / points of the compass (N, S, W, E, NE, NW, SE, SW), the building can be assigned to the east or west group by determining the seating position. This step makes it possible to determine the favourable and unfavourable directions of the building.

The so-called Lo Pan, a special compass used in Feng Shui, provides a precise analysis of the trigram quality. The quality of the energy prevailing in a certain area (e.g. entrance, workplace) enables conclusions to be drawn about chances of success, finances, risk of accident or impending losses. Of course, it does not mean that in a particularly negative area (there are four levels of “negative” and “positive”) accidents inevitably have to happen, but the tendency for them is established and measures to prevent accidents should be taken.
A compensation must always be carried out in the four unfavourable trigram areas of the building, because - irrespective of the human element – there are already disturbances in the energy flow in these areas. You can read what such compensation can look like in the section on strengthening and weakening elements.

2. The person

The person in the room is also examined more closely in an analysis of the work environment, and one of the five elements is assigned to them:

The life trigram of a person (also called Kua number) is determined by the year of their birth, it gives information about the element assigned to them. The calculation for men and women is based on a different system that is not explained any further here.

An example:
Men born in 1980 belong to the Kua number 2 and thus to the element of earth; women born in 1980 belong to the Kua number 4 and the element of wood. The Lo Pan (compass) also shows which cardinal points are favourable and unfavourable for a given person in relation to the human element.

3 . Conclusion

After determining the room element and the element of the person using the room, a harmonisation can be undertaken through selecting the ambience (wall colour, pictures, carpets, accessories, etc.) and determining a favourable position for the desk.

Measures to strengthen the elements

1. The creative cycle

To strengthen one element using another, the so-called creative cycle is used.

Example: A person with the Kua number 9 (= element fire) is supported by the colour green or materials and shapes that correspond to the element of wood - such as plants and columns.

If you look at the cycle in a counter-clockwise direction, you get information about which element weakens the next one.

Example:  A room in the fire (south) trigram as an unfavourable area (as is the case in a house with a westerly sitting position) => to weaken the negative influence, the attributes of the element of earth are suitable, i.e. a sand-coloured carpet, a room wall painted in light terracotta or stable, cube-shaped furniture.

The following always applies: the more clearly an aid can be assigned to an element, the stronger its energetic effect.

2. The controlling or destructive cycle

The controlling cycle shows which element has an inhibiting, controlling relationship to another:

Wood controls earth (forests prevent soil erosion)
Earth controls water (water seeps into the ground)
Water controls fire (the fire is extinguished)
Fire controls metal (fire melts metal)
Metal controls wood (the axe cuts the tree)

In the controlling cycle, two elements are in a tense relationship; a combination of the two leads to disharmony in the room. The element that stands between the two creates a balance here.

Example: The study in the east (wood) is furnished with dark brown carpet (earth). The balancing element of fire could be represented here by sun-yellow curtains or an appropriately painted wall. The combination of wood, fire and earth generates a part of the creative cycle, the harmony is restored.

The controlling cycle can be used in negative trigram areas to compensate for the energetic disadvantage, whereby a harmonising element must always be used in order to avoid conflicts between the controlling elements (water-fire, metal-wood, etc.).

Do you have any questions?

The art of effectively applying the teachings of Feng Shui in our workspaces or rooms requires extensive knowledge and in-depth understanding of the philosophy of its founders and masters. Some measures appear easy to implement at first, but will only work in the context of a solid knowledge of the Landscape and Compass School with their respective teachings on Qi flow and the interaction of the elements, as well as knowledge of the location of water veins, electromagnetic fields, earth rays and faults.

We have tried to give you a first impression of the possibilities and approaches of the Chinese theory of harmony. We would be happy to talk to you about a professional analysis of your premises combined with qualified recommendations for action.

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