Posts from the “Feng Shui” Category

East-West Architecture

What does it mean to have an integrated east-west approach to architecture?

For me, it means having a foundational understanding of both eastern and western design philosophies and responding to design challenges in a way that is true to both perspectives. Finding this balance isn’t always easy, but it is possible. It took me over 10 years to develop an integrated east-west approach to architectural design. The beauty of this approach is that you don’t have to chose one way of thinking over another, the integrated design provides universal harmony and balance.

My journey began with my formal studies of western architecture in 1992 at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. The philosophy of the school was “learn by doing” so the curriculum cultivated an interactive and hands-on approach to architectural design and practice. Upon receiving my degree, I felt excited and ready to began practicing architecture.

Initially, I found myself leading design efforts for urban development and mixed-use projects, with a strong focus on the beautification of outdoor space. After a few years, my focus shifted to whole building design with an emphasis on community based buildings. This work allowed me to deepen the purpose of my work by giving back to the community and connecting with the building occupants who would experience my architecture on a regular basis. I enjoyed working on community centers and libraries because the work was dynamic, interactive, and full of functional and sustainable challenges.

After working on community oriented projects for about 8 years, I decided to deepen the sustainable focus and spirit of my work with explorations into eastern perspectives on design aesthetics and building traditions. In 2010 I began my formal studies of classical feng shui to broaden my design sensibilities and re-inspire my creativity in preparation for working with residential clients.

As I deepened my studies of classical feng shui, I started to see a multitude of connections and crossover between western design ideals and eastern methods of designing for balance and harmony. These connections lead me to develop an integrated approach to design that takes into account both the eastern and western perspectives.

The Spirit of Wabi Sabi

Recently, I learned that wabi-sabi is not only an aesthetic, but also a philosophy born out of a Japanese world-view based on Taoism and influenced by Zen Buddhism. In Taoist cosmology, it is believed that all things that are manifest in the world come from the great void know as the Tao, and eventually everything shall return to the Tao. We are all part of an inter-connected system of life, and everything is in a perpetual state of change.

As time passes, new things come into being and old things depart. Nature dances with time and offers us the opportunity to appreciate her beauty as time changes her physical appearance. Wabi-sabi philosophy and aesthetics are derived from observations of nature and have been nurtured and refined over many centuries by Zen monks in Japan. The word “wabi” was originally used to describe the lonely lifestyle of a Monk, who had given up all worldly possessions in favor of an austere, simple, and disciplined life. Today it implies a rustic simplicity, quietness, attention to detail, and understated beauty. “Sabi” is used to convey a sense of desolation and wilderness – like reeds after a frost. It it is associated with the notion that all sentient being will eventually die. It is used today to express the physical beauty that is revealed when an object starts to show its age. These 2 words were combined in the 13th century by Zen Monks to describe an aesthetic philosophy that grew out of their humble efforts to express their love of life balanced against the backdrop of life’s impermanence. Wabi-Sabi aesthetics go beyond conventional beauty, seeking to arouse deeper emotions within us that resonate with our intuition and early childhood experiences.

In the Zen tradition, true beauty is experienced when we allow ourselves to be curious and open to change and when we approach life without judgment. Beauty is neither prescriptive nor formulaic. Wabi-sabi aesthetics have deep roots in Japanese culture and are exemplified in the art of tea where every last detail is thoughtfully considered. By attending to beauty through the art of tea, we are able to deepen our appreciation, connection, and reverence for life. Wabi-sabi is always approached with humility and sincerity. It is modest, imperfect, and unrefined. It has the imperfect qualities of nature and humanity and is the colors of autumn. It savors the moment, and accents the beauty of age in the physical world that reflects the irreversible flow of life in the spiritual world.

This blog post was originally published on Harmonious Home

Art : Photography : Architecture : Feng Shui

From the time that I was a young girl I’ve had an eye for beauty, a desire to help others, and a passion for creative expression. Helping people live more balanced and joyful lives has brought my work into alignment with who I am.

My art training started in the first grade when I learned to blend primary colors using watercolor paints on wet paper. As I developed an understanding of how colors mix, my understand of color energetics developed as well. The vibrancy of the primary colors captivated and thrilled me. As I advanced through grade school, my artistic talents blossomed as I explored different mediums and new ways of illustrating the increasingly complex subject matter.
Blood Circulation Diagram
In junior high I continued to hone my artistic talents with advanced art classes where I refined my pen and ink illustration work and learned more about graphic communication and printing processes.
Ear Illustration
By the time I entered high school, I had sharpened my eyes and ears to the world around me and was eager to enroll in photography classes so that I could share my view of the world with those around me. With my camera in hand, I became engrossed in finding beauty in the mundane. In the darkroom, I would loose track of time, consumed with the craft of developing photographs, counting the seconds for the images emerge, and playing with exposure, contrast, and silvering techniques.
Black+White Portrait

In collage, I continued to refine my photography skills with advance coursework and started to do some freelance event photography for theatrical productions, events, and weddings. While in college, I applied my art and design background to a degree in architecture. I excelled at technical drawing, composition, modeling, and bringing the aesthetics of beauty to the functionality of space. After a year abroad to study the classics in Italy, I began to focus my study on urban spaces and the design of outdoor environments. My thesis project included an in depth study of the genius loci of Catania, Sicily, and culminated an urban renewal project focused on enhancing the pedestrian experience along a path linking the main train terminal to downtown Catania.

Thesis Cut Away
Thesis Cut Away

My thesis project launched me into a career in architecture where I focused on combining beauty with form, function, and sustainability to enhance the human experience. With a passion for sustainable living, I quickly became an advocate for selecting green products and materials and spent time researching sustainable methods of construction.

Yemegnushal CC
Yemegnushal Community Center, Ethiopia – World Family Organization

In 2002, I narrowed my architecture focus to work exclusively on community-based projects such as libraries and community centers where I felt I could make a profound impact on community development and social dynamics. In 2004, I became a LEED Accredited Professional, and started to focus exclusively on designing green community-based projects.

Mayfair Community Center, San Jose

In 2009, I enrolled in the Golden Gate School of Feng Shui to learn the ancient art of feng shui, deepen my connection with nature, and refresh my senses that had become dulled by working in front of a computer for 10 years. My training in classical feng shui strengthened my design fundamentals and reinforced my core belief that we are happiest when living in harmony with our environment.

In 2010 I founded Harmonious Home to help my clients reconnect with nature, and transform their living and working environments into places of beauty, inspiration, and prosperity. I work with each client in an open, non-assuming manner to understand their goals and objective, make recommendations that work with their lifestyle, and support them through the feng shui implementation process.

My passion is to help people find creative ways to live in harmony with their environment.