Listen: Happy Chinese New Year!

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This morning, on Chinese New Year, Ian Power, Co-Host of Vancouver's Home Discovery Show interviewed me about Feng Shui. Ian Power & Steve Seaborn host, taking your calls and chatting with a wide variety of guests in the field of home improvement.

  • How do you pronounce Feng Shui?
  • What is Feng Shui about?
  • Who is Feng Shui for?

Interview Transcript:

IP: Beautiful and nurturing environments with Feng Shui and Green Design, and we’re going to get the right pronunciation in just a moment. Anjie Cho is a licensed architect, LEED AP Feng Shui consultant and founder of Holistic Spaces and Anjie Cho Architect. With a decade of experience, Anjie has designed high-end residential and commercial spaces throughout New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Anjie is also in the process of writing a book, “How to Use Feng Shui and Green Design to Create Healing Space,” and she’s joining us now on The Home Discovery Show. Thanks for being with us this morning.

AC: Hi, good morning Ian, and thank you for having me.

It’s a pleasure to have you here. Now, let’s get this straight, and let’s get it on the table right now. I looked up Feng Shui on Wikipedia and it said, F – E – N – G and then it says that the second, that’s pretty simple, but the second part is they say Shui and that’s probably not right, is it?

No, that’s not right, it’s actually Feng Shui.

Feng Shui. Now, and…

But you say it at the second popular way to say it.

Oh okay. So, I mean, is it a dialect thing or how is it, and what language is that?

It’s Chinese actually.

And is it Mandarin or Cantonese?

That I don’t know, but it’s Chinese, and it means Wind and Water actually.

So that would tie in nicely then in the year of the Water Snake, wouldn’t it? I guess that would add more significance to its meaning this year.

Oh yeah, definitely and Happy Chinese New Year.

Well thank you, and same to you as well. So what is this that we’re talking about here today?

First we can talk about Feng Shui. A lot of people ask me “What is Feng Shui?” It’s an Asian art of placement. I like to call it the original Green Design. I say it’s Green Design because, really, it’s a way to look at the environment around us and look at how we can shift our built environment to really harmonize with nature by looking at the cycles and patterns in the natural world.

And who is it for? Is it just for people of Asian descent?

No, it’s for everyone actually. Feng Shui was developed in China but every culture actually has their own form of Feng Shui. Feng Shui is really just a way that was developed to optimize the land and teach people how to really live with nature. So everyone can work with Feng Shui, or any kind of what we call geomancy, like working with the land, to really optimize your home and your office to have the best opportunities for success, happiness, good fortune, everyone wants those things.

Oh sure, absolutely. I’m wondering, is it something that you can practice after the fact or is it best to get in on it before you even start building?

I get that question a lot too. A lot of people will say, “Anjie, I’d really like you to come in but I can’t do any renovations, I’m just renting, I have this tiny apartment, everything is where it needs to be.” In fact, the principles of Feng Shui are universal and they can be used, yes, at the beginning of a project before you build your home, and that is ideal but you can make huge changes just by changing the arrangement on your desk. I have right now a flower, a plant, an orchid, on the top center of my desk, and that’s a wood element. That feeds fire, which is fame, and that’s to help my fame and recognition in the world.

Well you’ve come to the right place for that, let me tell you. If you want fame, The Home Discovery Show will deliver. The Lunar New Year is upon us, the Year of the Water Snake, so all joking aside, what are the special considerations at this time of the year? The New Year is underway, a Year of the Snake. What do we want to be thinking about, specifically when it comes to Feng Shui?

Okay, so the Chinese lunar calendar marks the beginning of spring actually. It doesn’t feel like spring, but it is the beginning of spring in the Chinese calendar. Last year was the Year of the Dragon, this year is the Year of the Water Snake. Last year, the Dragon energy was really about facing things head on, a much more aggressive energy, and this year is going to be much more subtle and thoughtful. Since it’s the beginning of spring, it’s the time for renewal and for new plants to grow and for new beginnings.

Okay.

So really it’s a great time to celebrate. You can get fresh oranges and tangerines, those represent luck and wealth. Actually, the words “orange” and “tangerine” sound like luck and wealth in Chinese.

Oh, okay, that’s kind of cool.

And then you can use those orange peels, which have a lot of life affirming bright energy, and that can be used to clear out any stagnant energy in your home and bring in some new bright, Chinese New Year energy and happiness.

Is there anything else that we should do physically to our home? Do we need to change the position of mirrors? I’ve heard that mirrors play an important role here, the way the energy flows through the house, that you have to have a certain flow or a chi through your home in order to fully appreciate what the Feng Shui can do to your environment? Anything to that?

Yes, definitely. That’s one of the main principles of Feng Shui, to really optimize the flow of energy and Feng Shui consultants like to say, “Take two mirrors and call me in the morning.” So we use a lot of mirrors to adjust things so if, say, you walk right in your front door and there’s a stair going straight up, that’s not so great because when you go walk in, your energy goes right up instead of flowing into the home and giving you the ability for that energy to gather. So you could put a mirror at the top of the stairs to kind of reflect the energy back. That’s one way to use a mirror.

Is that the place to start, right at the front door?

I think the place to start is in your home, because that’s the closest to you. The front door can be a good place because that represents your face to the world so, it’s adjusting what people see.

I’m just wondering if there’s one area of the home more than another that creates either positive or negative energy?

It depends on what your issues are, but important places are: Your bed, because that’s where you spend a lot of time. Especially, you spend unconscious time there so you get affected by the energy a lot. If you’re really interested in improving your work, your desk is a great place to start, or your home office. Another good place is your stove, because the stove represents how we nourish ourselves in the world, how we make money, wealth. All the energy that you put in your food, it happens at the stove, so you want to put the best energy into the food you eat to keep you healthy and give you the ability to be really successful.

Feng Shui is a holistic view of your wellbeing, so it’s not only your body and your person, but it’s obviously the environment in which you operate, whether it be your home or your office. Have I got that pretty much right?

That’s correct.

And who would be qualified to practice or advise in the art of Feng Shui?

A lot of people like to read books. There’s a lot of conflicting books, simply because there’s many different types of Feng Shui. There’s actually an International Feng Shui Guild that has a list of consultants that you can look at, and they’re qualified. There’s different levels of qualification, and that could be a good place to start. Of course, it’s always great to go by referral, and when you speak with someone, talk to a bunch of different consultants. See who you’re drawn to, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, because you really need to feel comfortable with them.

As an architect, how much of your Feng Shui experience and your consultancy plays into your work as an architect?

It’s actually very integrated in to my architectural work, because it really gives meaning to what I do. It’s not just about making something look good or making something stand up, it’s about giving depth and intention to what you do. I always consider it in all my designs. Sometimes it doesn’t work out the best way, because sometimes the client doesn’t necessarily want it, but the intention is always there and there’s ways to optimize the Feng Shui. Certain limitations, but I always have it in there.

One of the things I like to ask people who do the kind of work that you do, not to put you on the spot, but how much is Feng Shui a form and how much is it a function?

It depends. It depends on the client. Some people are more about how you behave in the world and they’re more about experiential qualities of space, so that would be more function. Form is actually very important too, because how you move through a space is really affected by environment and the shape, the form. One affects the other. You have to have both, I guess.

Yeah, fair enough. I know as an architect and Feng Shui consultant, you’ve worked in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Are there big differences between the way people on the East coast operate and the way that people on the West coast operate? I mean, are the needs different, are the wants different? Does the way you employ your services work differently on the different coasts?

The spaces are definitely different. In New York, they’re much smaller and it’s much more dense than it is on the West coast or most places, but everyone’s needs are the same in the sense that everyone’s feeling very stressed and detached because of all these technological changes. We’re getting so busy and we’re really losing touch with our environment and with ourselves, so I think that is something across the board everyone’s feeling, and people are looking for something else.

Anjie Cho with Holistic Spaces and Anjie Cho Architect to welcome projects of all sizes, from Feng Shui consultations to full-gut renovations. You do site visits and space cleaning and Chinese astrology analysis and your website is holisticspaces.com. We’ve also posted that and shared that on our Home Discovery Show Facebook Page. We’re unfortunately out of time, I wish we had a little bit more time but Anjie Cho, I hope that you’ll join us again sometime and we can talk about other things including some of the work in architecture that you do.

I’d love to, thank you so much for having me.

Nice to have you and we’ll talk to you very, very soon. Anjie Cho with Holistic Spaces and Anjie Cho architect, holisticspaces.com. This is The Home Discovery Show and we’re back in a moment on the Corus Radio Network.

Click here to listen to my other interviews with the Home Discovery Show.

by Anjie Cho


From the leaky faucet upstairs, to an entire back yard overhaul, when it comes to projects around your home, the advice you need is heard weekly on Vancouver’s CKNW Home Discovery Show.

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