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Suite 305, South Tower, 5811 Cooney Road
Richmond BC

Taste of Life Magazine is France & Canada's leading luxury lifestyle magazine in Chinese and English.


Five Elements Principles in Office Building Decor

A seemingly ordinary office building renovated in accordance with the ancient Five Elements philosophy gives its tenants an underlying advantage.


The office building’s reception desk uses grey and black, colours connected to water, as well as white, representing metal, implying “metal breeds water.” Earthy-coloured and reddish-brown wall paintings and green potted plants add the other three elements, namely earth, fire and wood, to enable the entire lobby’s Five Elements to form a harmonious upward spiral.


The Chinese Five Elements devotee and owner of the firm WMH109, Buddy Huang, bought a  9,500 sq. ft law office building with an ocean view and excellent revenue earning potential in Ventura, California. When restructuring the space to accommodate all sorts of professions, he immediately sought out Ms. Evan Yanagi, a Toronto-based Five Elements and feng shui consultant to design a success-generating environment.

Yanagi began by determining the building’s existing elemental properties. In this ancient theory, each element — wood, fire, earth, metal and water — begets or counteracts another and is associated with a colour and cardinal direction. Arranging them conscientiously allows inhabitants to take control of the universal energy around them. 

“As it stood, the building occupied the metal-water position on the Five Elements diagram. Most of this building’s former tenants were lawyers, a profession governed by metal. But lawyers also interact with many people: their ability to flow between personalities and situations is strong, similar to water. This appears to be a coincidence - but the building’s Five Elements characteristics match those of the occupants. When people feel intrinsically comfortable, their businesses thrive.”

To provide an environment for more professions, Yanagi had to make its Five Elements qualities more harmonious, rather than emphasize one or two. “Huang redesigned this property to be a place where diverse professionals come and go frequently so the building’s reception area is important.”

She placed the reception desk within the structure’s water realm on grey carpet.  “Grey or blue, water-inspired carpets are ideal for commercial hallways. People come and go like flowing water. White (for metal) is essential to have nearby. Metal breeds water, so we add green plants to represent wood and red wall paintings to represent fire. Water nourishes wood, wood feeds fire, and fire eventually creates the beige walls, an earth colour. The reception space, the whole building’s central nervous system, now naturally produces a harmonic flow of power.” 


Yanagi highlights different elements depending on her clients’ intended outcome. Design firms need to nurture inspiration and benefit from abundant fire (red). Real estate or insurance companies, subsumed to earth, require colours like brown and beige.
“Simply using colours to balance the Five Elements does not work — sometimes the colours

are incompatible. If you need elemental fire but cannot work in red items, situate electrical appliances, such as computers, TV sets and fridges in the area. Metal or wooden furniture can add their corresponding element where needed.”  

Western house designs often unconsciously accord with Five Elements philosophy, Yanagi remarked. For instance, a south-facing main entrance brings in fortuitous fire and the household prospers. Spaces involving tools and studies, such as garages and libraries, subsumed to wood, are often situated on the east side of the lot in the direction of wood. The living room and family room are often in southwest and northeast corners, subsumed to earth. Kitchens are often oriented in the northwest, subsumed to metal-water. “Houses with this kind of layout are often in demand. Whether East or West, the world is composed of the Five Elements. When the Five Elements are in harmony, people naturally feel at ease, physically and mentally.”

Photo Courtesy of Yanagi Group