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Wabi-sabi

I recently learned about the Japanese aesthetic referred to as “wabi-sabi.” For many years I’ve been trying to describe this very thing with my somewhat limited English vocabulary.  When I stumbled upon the term wabi-sabi in Mother Earth News, it was as if my personal view of the world had finally found a place to settle and be understood… in Japanese culture.

The term “wabi-sabi” represents a comprehensive Japanese aesthetic centered on the notion of transience. Some qualities associated with wabi-sabi are impermanence, modesty, asymmetry, simplicity, integrity, and imperfection. The term can be applied to both living and inanimate objects, either natural or man-made. It is with this view of the world that I explore art, design, and photography.

It is truly a blessing to see the world through a lens that reveals the extraordinary in the ordinary, finds strength in weakness, and illuminates beauty in the banal. Wabi-sabi nurtures authenticity and seeks beauty in nature. When encountered, it can bring about a sense of serene melancholy or spiritual longing. It grounds us in our humanity and inspires deep appreciation for all that we are blessed with.

 

From the time that I was a young girl I’ve had an eye for beauty, a desire to help others, and a passion for creative expression. Helping people live more balanced and joyful lives has brought my work into alignment with who I am.

Watercolor

5th Grade Watercolor

My art training started in the first grade when I learned to blend primary colors using watercolor paints on wet paper. As I developed an understanding of how colors mix, my understand of color energies developed as well. The vibrancy of the primary colors captivated and thrilled me. As I advanced through grade school, my artistic talents blossomed as I explored different mediums and new ways of illustrating and communicating the increasingly complex subject matter.

blood-circulation-diagram

Blood Circulation Diagram

In junior high I continued to hone my artistic talents with advanced art classes inspired by my sense of the spiritual world, the life sciences, geometry, and astronomy. While refining my pen and ink illustration work, I also learned about graphic communication techniques and printing processes.

Pen & Ink Illustration

Insect Ink Illustration

eye and ear illustration

Eye & Ear Illustration

By the time I entered high school, I had sharpened my eyes and ears to the world around me and was eager to enroll in photography classes so that I could share my physical experience of the world with those around me. With my camera in hand, I became engrossed in finding beauty in the mundane and freeze-framing beauty in motion. In the darkroom, I found myself consumed with the craft of developing photographs, counting the seconds for the images emerge, and playing with exposure, contrast, and silvering techniques.

Black+White

Black+White Portrait

In college, I applied my art and design background to a degree in architecture. I excelled at technical drawing, composition, modeling, and bringing the aesthetics of beauty to the functionality of space. At the same time, I continued to refine my photography skills with advance course work and started to do some freelance event photography for theatrical productions, events, and weddings.

After a year abroad in 1995 to study architecture in Florence, Italy, I began to focus my architecture studies on urban spaces and the design of outdoor environments. My thesis project included an in depth study of the genius loci of Catania, Sicily, and culminated in an urban renewal project focused on enhancing the pedestrian experience along a path linking the main train terminal to downtown Catania.

Thesis Cut Away

Thesis Cut Away

My thesis project launched me into a career in architecture where I focused on combining beauty with form, function, and sustainability to enhance the human experience. My passion for sustainable living, led me to seek out sustainable alternatives to traditional building materials for my projects.

Yemegnushal CC

Yemegnushal Community Center, Ethiopia

In 2002, I took a job with Field Paoli Architects where I joined a small group of architects focused on designing community centers, sports facilities, and libraries. These projects gave me the opportunity to interact with community groups and public agencies and to have a positive impact on community development and social dynamics. In 2004, I became a LEED Accredited Professional, and shortly there after, I moved into a management role with my company. As a project manager, I was responsible for overseeing the design, contract documents, and building construction for the Mayfair Community Center, Park and Pool.

Mayfair Community Center

Mayfair Community Center, San Jose – LEED Certified Project

In 2009, I enrolled in the Golden Gate School of Feng Shui to learn the ancient art of feng shui, deepen my connection with nature, and refresh my senses. My training in classical feng shui strengthened my design fundamentals and reinforced my core belief that we are happiest when living in harmony with our environment.

Cairn

Cairn: Earth Offering/Alter

In 2010 I founded Harmonious Home to help my clients reconnect with nature, and transform their living and working environments into places of beauty, inspiration, and prosperity. I work with each client in an open manner to understand their goals and objectives, make general and specific recommendations that work with their lifestyle, and support them through the feng shui implementation process.

My passion is to help people find creative ways to live in harmony with their environment.

lo pan compassThe study of feng shui and sustainability have the same early beginnings in the close observation of nature – which led to the study and classification of natural patterns, cycles of change, astronomy, geometry, and the recognition of inherent beauty in all living things. These truths are fundamental to feng shui and to our knowledge of the world. They are also present in math, science, medicine, art and architecture.

While many of us have very different associations when we hear terms such as “sustainability” and “feng shui”, it’s important to remember that these two notions share similar origins and strive for similar outcomes. With a background in sustainable design and architecture, it is natural for me to focus on the similarities between sustainability and feng shui and find ways of weaving the two together in my work.

While sustainability is the capacity to endure, remain healthy, well balanced, and productive over time; classical feng shui – as I practice it – is the art of creating a harmonious environment to support a sustainable livelihood. My approach to design integrates both of these ideas and is applicable across a broad spectrum of project types from residential design to urban planning.

I’m passionate about combining functional design with sustainable technologies and classical feng shui in an intelligent and artful way, to create environments that support my clients’ long term health, life-work balance, happiness, and productivity.

 

4 Pillar Calculator

Here is a quick and easy way to calculate your Four Pillars of Destiny Chart.


The art of reading and interpreting a Four Pillars Chart is done manually. If you would like to learn more about your chart and what it means, please schedule a consultation.

Interested in being part of the conversation about creating healthy, livable community right here in the bay area?

Join the Bay Area Healthy Communities Coalition on May 7th in an interactive discussion about how vibrant downtowns can benefit local jobs, housing, transportation, and the health of the community. There will be a dynamic panel discussion followed by a small group brainstorming session to develop strategies for creating more resilient communities. This event is free and open to the pubic, so if you are looking for something meaningful to do with your time next Tuesday night, I suggest you check it out!

People often ask me “What kind of architect are you?”

I’ve had the pleasure of designing community centers, libraries, recreation facilities, theaters, restaurants, live-work lofts, and single family homes. But the type of projects I’ve designed and built is not what defines me. It is the way I think about the environment and my clients that brings my unique designs to life.

My architectural training and experience have given me an ability to synthesize thousands of disparate pieces of information into a cohesive and holistic design solution for my clients. Here is an example of how we might get started.

Draperies

When it comes to draperies, I have a much to learn as my clients. Luckily, I love textiles and understand the basics of how drapes work. Drapes and curtains can be quite expensive to buy, and never look quite right unless you go for a custom design. But if you hove some skill with a sewing machine, they make a fairly straight forward DIY project. Take a look at these for inspiration.

Draperies Lay It on the Lining

Browse Window Treatments on Houzz- For Example:

Side yards are often neglected or used exclusively for utility. Here is an inspiring article about ways to turn your side yard into a glorious garden room and increase your enjoyment of your home and property.

Turn a Side Yard Into a Garden Room

Reviving the Front Porch

As our lives have become more demanding and faster paced in recent history, more and more people are feeling isolated and disconnected from their neighbors and communities. By reviving the Front Porch of your home and using it more regularly you can create opportunities to meet your neighbors, rebuild a sense of community, and reduce crime in your neighborhood. Here are 7 ideas to get you back to using your front porch.

7 Ideas to Get You Back on the Front Porch

Kitchen Design

I usually like to stay away from using black in a kitchen design, but there are ways to incorporate black accents that bring real elegance to a large kitchen. Check out the link below to learn more smart ways to incorporate black into your kitchen design.

When to Use Black in the Kitchen

Feeling Cramped in your Home?

Here are 5 simple tips to help you create a space that feels more spacious.

1. Don’t leave all your walls white. Consider adding one accent wall to each room. In the bedroom, add an earth tone paint color to the wall behind your headboard to anchor the space and warm up the room. In the living room, add an accent wall behind the couch to ground the space and bring warmth and color to the living area. In the kitchen, add a warming yellow or orange accent wall behind the counters to bring in warmth and joy to the kitchen.

2. Get your stuff off the floor and counter tops by using floor to ceiling shelving instead of low book cases. Floor to ceiling shelving will bring the eye up, open up the space, and give you more places to store books and other items a small room.

3. Use a mirror to reflect the outdoor view and natural light. Used effectively, mirrors can double the size of a space and bounce natural light around the room dramatically changing the feel of a small room.

4. In addition to adding an accent wall, hang artwork that brings life and inspiration to the room. Select artwork that fills the wall space and draws the viewer into the image. Just like a mirror, artwork can also open up a room as we travel visually into another world through the image.

5. Think about scale. Over sized furniture will feel cramped in a small room and may take up so much space that it is difficult for people to move around. Balance the amount of open space with the seating and resting areas so that there is ample room for movement as well as rest. Choose furniture that is well proportioned with the room and offers functional flexibility.

Want more? Just ask.

What is known as “feng shui” in the West is based on a system of principles and a foundation of knowledge that was developed in China over the last four thousand years. The Chinese name for this area of study and knowledge is Kān Yú. Kān Yú literally means the Tao of Heaven and Earth. To understand and practice the art of Kān Yú requires disciplined practice and dedication to the study of the laws of Heaven (time) and Earth (space). The art of Kān Yú is used throughout Asia to help improve one’s life by harnessing positive qi (energy) from the environment.

The term “feng shui” literally translates as “wind water” but it means “the qi disperses in wind, but is retained in water”, this is an example of the nature of qi. This expression was adopted by the West as a cultural shorthand for Kān Yú following the translation of the Zang Shu, one of the earliest written records of Kān Yú by Guo Pu (276-324) from the Jin Dynasty.

What is known in the West as “Classical” or “Traditional Feng Shui” is still called Kān Yú in China where it has been widely used for the last 4,000 years to orient buildings and spiritually significant structures in environmentally appropriate ways. Using Kān Yú principles, buildings are oriented for optimal solar exposure and seasonal changes in a specific climate and in reference to local land features and geography.

Kān Yú differs dramatically from Western or Modern Feng Shui which was introduced to America in the mid-1980s by Professor Thomas Lin Yun. While Traditional Feng Shui continues to rely on the fundamentals of Kān Yú, and uses tools such as the compass, and information gathered from the land and climate such as solar orientation, Western Feng Shui (BTB) has developed a unique set of tools that are used prescriptively (including a “bagua map” that is oriented to the home’s front door), irrespective of environmental factors or solar orientation.

Want more? Please leave your comments, or send me an email and I’ll respond.

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