With feng shui spreading its wings and influencing the West, must creative personnel understand it to figure their Asian clients out?
The difference between feng shui, taboo, superstitions and significance is that there is no difference at all. No idealistic idiosyncrasies with no further explanation. Life is such too, isn’t it? The situations down the road on a stormy weather can never be determined by the tone of color of the clouds to know what lies ahead or by the clues from the dimensions of the raindrops.
My best friend told me once that “it is better to believe in some superstition than to believe nothing at all because that way, we take more precautions.” And then she continues to share:
That Golden Octagon
Someone from our government cabinet wanted to build a bridge (or was it a highway?) on a bed of road. So he consulted an Almanac Master in darkest secret for consultation and approval. The geomancer opposed adamantly and fiercely advised him: “There is a dragon sleeping on this area. If you were to build a bridge (or was it a highway?) the dragon will wake and stir turmoil of catastrophe. But how you can tackle and turn this problem around is to have each and every of your citizen owning an octogan-shaped talisman in every household.”
The cabinet personnel got worried. He cannot let his citizen know that the government of the republic a superstitious bunch. So, him being him (an extraordinarily CLEVER man) designed a coin of 8 sides. A dollar golden coin.
I am not sure if the above story is myth or mere gossip or if that said coin in my hands now is a true representation of prophecies and omens. But what I know is, people from the East or West and everywhere as a matter of fact adhere to a certain degree of superstitious beliefs in their lives.
East or West, They are Everywhere
And so… for every aspect of their lives, especially the aspect of their business, feng shui is complied with every detail from their letterhead to their logos to the color of their flasks in that funnily colored pantry.
No matter how modern one appear to be (in Asia), no matter how decorum their straight manners are (Europeans) and no matter how open-minded and liberal they appear (Americans), there is always this space of folklore that lives deep down their pocket: The Old Wives’ Tales.
Brand identity especially… “Please change the logo. My Almanac Master says that because I am borne in the year of the tiger, I cannot have sharp edges at the sides of my logo. And the color… Can I have more Gold and Red on the emblem as well? Email me the changes when you are done. I need to call the telephone provider. I am changing my phone number. My geomancer says that it will be bad business to have 4 in my (and so the story goes)….”
Clash of Constructing Interest
That was a Chinese Client? In architecture and interior designs as well… it was all the hype in 1998 in Universite de Montreal, Canada where all the students were yakking about feng shui and putting the belief and principles of it in their design practices.
Moshe Safdie, a 68 years old, Israeli-born architect from USA designed Singapore’s first integrated resort which gave birth a kafuffle with the geomancers. But he went through it all. He was fully aware of the whole rigmarole of the feng shui uproar in Singapore having only returned from a week of discussions with Las Vegas Sands, American casino-resort giant who won the bid of the Marina Bay integrated resort in Singapore.
Mr Safdie said, “Architecture is a social art. We have an agenda to meet in the kind of spaces for human interaction – how it fits into place with the climate, how it fits into place with the culture…”
The thoughts of a creative personnel versus geomancers on his design of Marina Bay Sands:
“3 towers look too much like ancestral towers look too much like ancestral tablets,” said the critic.
After pointing out that all towers actually curve inwards, he continues, “ Because if the towers were straight up, that would be too pompous. It would be too much about power and not enough about humanity.”
The creative people beg for their explanation on design theory to be heard and to explain why opal would look so much more in tune with their brand identity than superstitious rubies.
Listen to the paradox…
Feng shui is about an Eastern art or practice of lucky living based on a belief in patterns of yin and yang and the flow of chi that have positive and negative effects.
Design is “A graphic representation, especially a detailed plan for construction or manufacture. The purposeful or inventive arrangement of parts or details.”
Weigh the irony
The intention of both practices (fengshui and design) are the same: For the betterment of human kind. And yet these two distinctive genres clashes at spearhead.
I quote this from an internet source:
“Overturning the salt is very unlucky, but spilling the vinegar makes no difference. Why salt should be revengeful and vinegar forgiving has never been told.”
The next time you feel that your luck is deserting you when you look at the moon over your left shoulder, try licking your elbows to amend for that grave mistake. And if your tongue can never reach your elbow, be condemned that your life is and can never be perfect, no matter how many times you shift your furniture and how many 8’s there are in your phone numbers and car plate.
With feng shui, which originated from the East, has already spreading its wings and influence like a tired yawn in the West, must creative personnel understand feng shui to understand their clients now – so as to curb changes after changes because of one’s folly superstitions?
Written for Design TAXI