BEIRUT: One car ride through Beirut provides a convincing case that this city, perhaps more than most, needs a little aesthetic harmony.
Skeptics of feng shui’s interior design doctrine – that physical space affects one’s energy, mood and possibly even fate – need only sit in the city’s blood-pressure raising traffic congestion, filled with undecipherable odors and drab concrete sky rises seldom graced by a glimpse of natural flora.
Although there’s little hope the city will be vibrating with the energy of feng shui anytime this century, a series of seminars will help homemakers and designers start harmonizing living rooms and offices around the capital.
This weekend, feng shui consultant and instructor Aoun Abi Aoun will teach a course on the concept and practical application of the Eastern design philosophy. Abi Aoun plans to hold more seminars in January and February, he said.
In general, feng shui is the concept that there are cosmic forces – channeled in elements such as water, fire and earth – that when balanced promote health and a better life.
The spiritual concept – which originated in East Asia more than 8,000 years ago – has evolved from a medicinal application to a modern design approach still centered on the idea of promoting human vitality, Abi Aoun said. “The way we apply it today is we put everything in harmony,” he added.
Practically speaking, this means every space from a garden to a room to an entire building or a plot of land can be assessed, and its architecture, colors and objects arranged according to feng shui principles, he explained.
The result: a space that both looks and feels balanced and is believed to have therapeutic benefits.
The introductory, three-day seminars start with the history and philosophy of feng shui, including its principles. A full second day of classes features lessons on implementation, such as assessing land, reviewing and drawing blue prints, and putting the theories of feng shui to work.
The final introductory course furthers the practical implementation of feng shui and gives attendees more information if they’re interested in continuing their education to become certified design consultants.
The courses are designed for anyone from homemakers interested in redecorating, to designers or architects wanting to expand their expertise and anyone interested in working as Abi Aoun does consulting and teaching.
The classes are mainly taught in Arabic but can be translated for French or English speakers, he said.
The classes are affiliated with the international feng shui group Feng shui in the Present Time, which focuses on modern applications of its principles in interior design.
The application of feng shui is very easy to learn, Abi Aoun said. For example, students learn how a room’s function affects its energy and thus how it should be arranged and decorated.
“The seating area is a place for communication, for sharing and laughing, which is associated with the element of water,” he said. Thus cool colors such as blue should decorate a living room or salon, which should also be oriented to the south according to feng shui, he said.
The individual, family or organization occupying a space also informs its design, Abi Aoun said.
Before the designing begins, the occupants are assessed for their own characteristics. The space is arranged to help soften or accentuate particular aspects of their character.
Abi Aoun offered the example of a young, single man’s bedroom. Feng shui associates young men with the element fire. “It’s a young element,” he said.
Playing on this element will complement the youthful energy of its inhabitant. The bedroom should be oriented to the north and incorporate vertical or triangular furniture such as a standing lamp, he said.
In contrast, if a person exhibits too much fire, feng shui can calm that personal element by incorporating more water-elements into the home.
“If someone has excess fire, we keep the fire but we don’t over-nourish it. If someone is lacking water, than we emphasize this element,” he said.
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