Conserve Your Ch'i

March 1999


Conserve Your Ch'i

Retailers use feng shui to create balance and harmony

Can a well-placed mirror, the length of a corridor or the shape of your company logo encourage customers to spend money in your store? Retailers such as London's Marks & Spencer think so and have adopted feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of placement, to optimize energy levels and communicate values.

Feng shui (pronounced feng shwee) considers the elements of a space – shapes, floor layout, colors, light – and how they work together to channel ch'i (chee), or energy, through a room. Feng shui adherents say ch'i moves in a gentle curve in an ideally planned space, not too quickly but without obstruction. Good ch'i brings prosperity, content employees and comfortable customers. While diagnoses vary, here are some basic feng shui applications.

It should be processional and welcoming. Add elements to create a sense of security (columns, plants or arches that act as "sentries") and visual interest (lights, mirrors, trees or fountains that flow toward the door). Use soundmakers (wind chimes, bells or music) and subtle, natural aromas (pine or floral) to soothe and stimulate visitors. Moving or three-dimensional elements in window displays and angled mirrors near the entrance catch pedestrians' attention.

Use smooth, organic lines, avoid sharp edges and observe angles, paths of movement and acoustics. Lights should be bright but not glaring. Incorporate living things (plants, trees, fish in aquariums) and moving objects (mobiles, fountains). The entrances of a room are important: ch'i is inhibited when doors open to blank walls but escapes if they face windows. Use mirrors to open up a space and plants, chandeliers or screens to block fast-moving ch'i.

Use elegant earth tones for an upscale look. One expert suggests small businesses in general use productive colors – green (growth), red (fruition) and yellow (harvest). For jewelers, the expert suggests decorating the interior in blues (growth, new beginnings), reds (happiness, passion) and white, but avoiding yellows (power).

Feng shui divides a space according to the "ba-gua," an octagon map that identifies power areas (see diagram). Place furniture strategically according to the power you want to tap; the cash register ideally should be in the back left corner of the store, for instance. Primary furniture (such as a showcase) should face the entrance. Anything on the wall should be hung low so you're not always reaching for something.

Feng shui depends on the earth's five elements, symbolized by shapes and colors, which work together in a productive order: wood (rectangle, green/ brown) makes fire (triangle, red/pink/ purple), which burns to form earth (square, yellow), which produces metal (circle, gold/white), which is condensed to water (wavy shapes, blue/gray/black).

In creating a company logo combine elements that follow each other in the productive order and use shapes that strengthen weak elements in your personality. (A circle nourishes a weak water element, for instance. See Geomancy-Online at to learn more.)

Clean Space
Clutter is a sure instigator of bad ch'i. Clean out closets, "in" baskets and messy spaces regularly. One feng shui specialist suggests moving 27 objects that haven't been moved in a year.

– by Stacey King

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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