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Dining Room Crisis

Monday, May 19, 2003
By: Joey Yap

In my line of work, I meet many interior designers, each has his /her own flair and style and I have found out (the hard way), that each design is personal. Critiquing a design is not far remote from insulting the designer him/herself.

A friend of mine who's an interior designer walked dejectedly into my office one afternoon, plopped himself down on my couch and with a huge sigh remarked, “I need some help with Feng Shui Joey. I have such a difficult client who seems to know a thing or two about Feng Shui and they have me running back to the drawing board each time they stumble across something new. I’m afraid to even propose a new design just in case it goes against their Feng Shui principles”.

I always try my best to help out my friends where I can and since this did concern Feng Shui, I figured I might as well give it a shot.

I had a look at the redesigns he had been forced to undertake and while he looked at me a little worriedly, I began to get a clearer picture of where the problem really lay in this whole situation.

A little information can be a dangerous thing and this client of his had taken some of this information a bit too literally and a bit too far.

Even the mirror in the dining room had been an issue, my friend explained. This client had insisted that the mirror should reflect the food on the table. Not an unusual design request and so the designer complied. But then he was informed that it should now be HUGE, so that it would not cut off the heads or feet of those sitting at the dining table. And to top it off, the mirror had to have a bronze frame inscribed with the Chinese character “m’an” (meaning ‘abundance’).

After somehow incorporating all these requests, this unfortunate interior designer was suddenly told to ensure the mirror didn’t reflect the toilet or the road. This request was logistically impossible since the house itself was relatively large and the mirror had to be custom built to accommodate the large dining wall. There was no way that it would now be able to reflect the food but not anything else.

When he investigated these odd requests, he was surprised that the real reason for the mirror was the clients wish that the food be ‘doubled’ when reflected in the mirror. The inscription “m’an” – to symbolize that they will always have lots of food and never go hungry.

Here’s my take on this whole misguided affair. The only way anyone is going to be able to double their food available is to cook MORE. The reflection in the mirror is merely an illusion; when you finish your food in the real world, you’ll find that it’s not there in the ‘mirrored’ world either. It is just an old house-wives superstition to believe mirrors can ‘double their food’ in the dinning room.

The inscription on the frames is not going to be of much use either – they’re merely Chinese characters meaning ‘abundance’. It might not be meaningful to those who can’t read Chinese! I asked my friend and he confirmed that his clients were not Chinese educated. It’s just a character, nothing more than that. It doesn’t have any magical powers to mysteriously create a lot of ‘abundance’ just because it meant “abundance”. Having this character around on the design is like writing the word ‘abundance’ all over the frames. If they can’t read Chinese, might be a good idea to put it in English right? Either way, it’s not going to have any Feng Shui significance.

Although a Chinese theme can often be a beautiful setting for your home’s décor, it really has very little to do with the real Feng Shui which is not primarily concerned with interior decorations. Feng Shui has more to do with the placement and alignment of key features within your home that allow you to manipulate Qi to your own benefit. Key features like pPathway, walkway, halls, rooms and working areas.

“I suppose now you’ll tell me the dining room table doesn’t make much of a difference either”, a pained expression on his face. “I had to re-design the table that was initially a round glass table. They went on about how the ‘Fire’ element in the South sector (where their dining room was), cannot have a round table or it would ‘counter’ the element of their dinning table, because Fire counters Metal (metal element is round in shape)”.

“If this were true, would we all need to have round beds (metal element) in our bedrooms if they were in the Northeast or Southwest (since the Earth element of NE or SW would then produce our bed’s element ‘metal’)?” I asked him jokingly. It’s all been taken to extremes I told him. “We can’t be sleeping in ‘wavy shaped’ beds that symbolize Water if we need the ‘water element’ now can we?”

Why then are we applying such an overly simplified concept to the dining room table? I explained to him that his clients had perhaps gone overboard and literally made a religion of Feng Shui instead of approaching it from a scientific perspective. This sort of thinking is superstitious and should be discouraged.

My friend also asked me about the tradition of cooking lots of food, overflowing in fact, to symbolize ‘abundance’.

I rationalized that this was nothing more than a waste of good food. Unless you are having a party, it makes no sense to cook more food than you can eat. You will just end up throwing it down the drain.

“No Feng Shui connotation linked to this habit then?”, he inquired.
“None whatsoever”, I told him.

“Well, what then do we need to focus on for the Feng Shui of a dining room?”.

The dining room is not regarded as one of the 6 important factors of internal Feng Shui in the ancient classics, in order of importance, it is ranked below the Main Door, Kitchen, Master Bedroom and Living Room. This is because normally residents do not spend considerable amount of time in the dinning room to benefit or be harmed by the Qi in that area.

As a general rule, the Dining Room should be located in a spacious and unobstructed area of the home. There is no need for elaborate, expensive mirrors and paintings as long as the Dining Room is located where good Qi gathers.

Your home’s Fu Wei or Yan Nian sectors are suitable areas for a Dining Room location. Fu Wei and Yan Nian’s Qi are often calming and would be ideal for family gatherings and meals. Or if you are a practitioner of Flying Star Feng Shui, have your dining room where the star combinations 4-1, 4-9, 8-6 or 6-8 are located.

To learn about your positive and negative directions based on 8 Mansion Feng Shui (Pa Chai), please click on the link below for an automated software:

You can also plot the Flying Star chart of your home by using the Flying Star software on my site:

I hope this article will go some way towards reducing the punishment and cruelty (in the words of my designer friend) that so many designers are being subjected to these days. It is useful to remind ourselves that Feng Shui is not a religion nor is it a superstitious cultural practice. We need not indulge ourselves to make every area of our home or office ‘oriental’ or ‘auspicious’ looking. The key factor here should be ‘comfort’. Residents should feel comfortable with their design and not be ruled and pressured by them.
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