October 26, 2016
A Balance of Elements - Lucy Russell
Through her Interior Design work, Vancouver based Lucy Russell places a thoughtful perspective on colour, textiles, and materials to simulate meaning, balance and flow within her spaces. With a focus on the Chinese practice of Feng Shui, Lucy works with her clients to bring a balance of the elements into the home for an environment of harmony and peace. She welcomed us into her Vancouver studio and told us about her practice, the impact of Feng Shui to ones health, and her pick of Feng-Shui friendly products on Kabuni.
What attracted you to Feng Shui?
Feng Shui for me, has been one of those things I tried to ignore and push away because I found it to be culturally confusing and I was often reading contradictory information. But despite my efforts, it has found me again, the difference being that I have found a way into it now that makes sense. It is multi-layered and complex mixture of science and art and I find it an exciting way to study the way we interact with ourselves, each other and with our spaces.
When balancing the five elements in a home, do you work to the space’s own temperament, or that of the owner?
I work on both. Every space has it’s own story, just as people have their own stories, both need to be heard and listened to. When I walk into a space and begin to move through it with the owner, I’m listening to what the owner is telling me about the space, how they space makes them feel. I ask a lot of questions as it’s important to know what is needed. For example is this is a home where there is a dedicated home office and the owner is complaining that his/her business isn’t moving ahead? Then I look at the space from this perspective. I look to see where the desk is, what direction it faces in the room, is there an open space in front of the desk, what is the light quality, does the space need more of the wood and fire elements to promote growth and passion? I also look at the owner’s personal birth chart and what it reveals about their personality and from this I can determine the locations in the home that would be more a more productive place to work for this person. Sometimes it’s necessary to move the home office to a different location in the home to achieve the wanted results.
With Marie Kondo being the biggest home psychology right now, what does Feng Shui teach us about the role of decluttering our homes?
In the practise of Feng Shui, everything living and non-living is energy. Everything is interconnected, therefore, we need only surround ourselves with things which we need and or which excite inspiration. Otherwise, the quality of our lives can be affected by indecision, unclear thinking, in trouble making decisions and depression. Marie offers a method of de-cluttering by theme rather than by room and this I’ve found to be really helpful! De-cluttering is technically not part of Feng Shui, but it is useful tool in allowing people to see how their things around them are preventing them from living their best lives. It’s a starting place.
What is the biggest Feng Shui mistake I see when I enter people’s homes? How does this impact their personal health, and how is it fixed?
Bedrooms are often too yang, meaning they have too much active energy in the space to allow the inhabitants long and deep sleep. So much research is currently being led around the issues of sleep deprivation or the lack of experiencing a full REM sleep cycle. This effects so many aspects of our physical, mental and emotional health from our ability to put energy into our relationships, to our inability to see an excellent work opportunity and it slips away. It’s important to keep bedrooms as dark aspossible with blackout curtains or blinds, keep all technology outside of the space, have a cool temperature in the room and natural materials such as cottons, wools and silks on the bed. Finally create a nighttime routine that allows you to slow your mind and body down before bed: turn off all devices earlier in the evening, shower or bathe before bed, and finally I strongly suggest not reading in bed before going to sleep. I know that’s a hard one for me!
Keeping with the collaboration trend...Is there a local artist or designer I’d like to work with?
Yes, Propellor Design! This is an exciting local maker who are creative thinkers using the elements of nature. I love their Ono Distressed Aluminum Pendant. I love that they take materials and put them to the test. They work it until it begins to suggest something other than what it appears to be, this process of getting a metal from the earth and making it appear soft. I’m so fascinated!
What is your dream project?
In classical Feng Shui, the land forms take president over man-made forms such as buildings and roads. My ideal project would be to find a property that had a balanced combination of water, lush rolling hills, rich soil and the sound of birds. These things tell you the quality of the area. Before building begins, I would use the compass as a guiding tool to find the best location to build on the property, to find the most auspicious directions and this will determine the location of the front door. Once these steps have been established, the project is ready to go forward. This is an important step in establishing a home with good accessible Feng Shui.
What is one thing in the home that makes you the happiest?
When I see a connection with nature through plants and pets in the home. When there is an abundance of light and the home is balanced with both quiet and active energy spaces. Sorry, that’s more than one thing....they’re all so important!
What is one thing about Kabuni you are excited for?
I immediately think of two: through Kabuni, local makers are given an opportunity to showcase their work and collaborate with designers in their projects. I believe we’re in something of a creative time in Vancouver and having a platform like this is a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together.
The second is for Kabuni House, the site. This work-share space is generous in size allowing for many things to be going on simultaneously with technology, 3D design, meeting/work tables. I’ve found it to be a perfect place to collaborate with other designers and to work on projects.
Lucy explaining the Lo-Pan tool, used in Feng-Shui.