The Five Energies of Design for Meeting Professionals

Feng Shui combines design psychology with Eastern philosophy. The result is interior design with powerful intention. Working – and playing – with the tools and principles of Feng Shui can help you create extraordinary events surrounded by incredible memories. Basically, anyone can create any ol’ setting. However, with a little bit of knowledge and a lot of insight these tools and principles can make the difference between a spectacular event and an event embued with unique, personalized choices focused on the success of your client. They are rich with intentions, and they won’t cost you a thing.

There are Five Energies, each with its own specific “atmospheric” energy. You may feel like a social chemist, carefully mixing elements to find just the right formula for your events. Ideally, there are at least two representations of each element: A Big Piece and A Small Piece, something to wonder at and something to touch; something in the background, something up close; something grandiose, something humble. (This engages each side of the brain on a subconscious level). Of course our event designs are meant to be extreme in some way – this isn’t to encourage you to create perfectly “balanced” environments every time. That would be horribly boring. Instead, let this inspire a different, new way to design. Oh, and have fun!


When we are surrounded by just the right amount, the party glows with happy laughing faces, the conversations are stimulating and engaging. If there’s too much Fire energy, guests can get irritable or impulsive, and if there’s too little, they can get “chilly” with each other having short conversations. Fire is found in all the red shades – pink, salmon, fire engine red, burgundy, maroon and every color in between, in the shapes of triangles, starbursts, tiki torches and anything that radiates outward. Also lighting is a Fire energy, from candles to sunlight. Big Piece: Fire fountain at the main entrance OR a wall lighting display of multicolored radiating stars; Small Piece: hurricane candles at each table OR those same radiating shapes on the cocktail tables.


When Metal is in balance your guests feel sophisticated and elegant and their attitude follows suit. When there’s an overabundance of Metal, people become aloof or too rigid, they’re unable to change plans easily. If there’s not enough of it, we feel indecisive or confused. Metal is found in all the metal accessories including silver, steel, bronze, gold and aluminum, round shapes like arches, circles and ovals, and in the colors from white to the pastels. It’s also seen in glitter and jewels. Try the Big Piece: chandelier or all white walls; Small Piece: centerpieces with jewels or white oval plates.


When it’s just right we can dream out loud, guests go with the flow and find it easy to relax. They are calm and completely at ease. Get too carried away with it however, and we get wishy-washy or cynical, too little we get anxious and competitive. Water is found in literal water features like fountains and aquariums, in all the dark shades from black and grey to chocolate, eggplant, midnight blue, forest green and burgundy, in materials that reflect – such as mirrors, and asymmetrical, flowing shapes. Note: be mindful of the sound of running water, as it can inspire additional visits to the restroom! Big Piece: A lowered ceiling with a swagging affect or a 100+ gallon aquarium; Little Piece: dark fabric on pillars or mirrored cocktail tables.


With just the right amount, there is peace in the room, guests and staff feel safe and secure, stable and predictable. However too much can be a bad thing and we get stubborn, too serious, and literally stuck. Those big fluffy chairs that no one wants to get out of? Too Earthy. If there’s not enough Earth, we feel disorganized or worried. Earth is found in all square or rectangular shapes, horizontal stripes and surfaces, and shades of brown – from chocolate to tan. Naturally, there are many Earth elements already in place: square tables, tiles, the dance floor itself, brown carpets, warm, neutral wall color. Big and Little pieces: try mixing or swapping shapes to introduce the unexpected – a round dance floor, oval nametags and moon gates – a circular doorway, or square plates, glasses and vases.


Wood in balance means that guests aren’t afraid to tour the room, they feel free to move around the room and talk with a wide variety of people. If there’s not enough Wood energy in the space, we can loose our self-confidence and motivation, and ideas are at a minimum, the pace of the evening might feel too slow. However, too much Wood energy and – heaven forbid – we adults feel like we’re at the wrong party with all the activity and individuation. Found in wood accessories and living plants, Wood is also seen in columnar shapes, vertical stripes and all the shades of blue and green. Big Piece: walkway of columns or larger than life indoor trees; Little Piece: stripes on chairs or a stem of herbs across the plate.

Ultimately these five energies can be applied to all things: Personality traits, clothing, cars, you name it. If this feels overwhelming to you right now, simply observe. Notice the behaviors and connect it to the surroundings. Soon you’ll see the patterns and soon after you’ll be dictating the experiences of the entire night.


This article was originally published on the FICP website.

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