Is Design Psychology Like Feng Shui?

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“Is Design Psychology like Feng Shui?”

This is typically the first question asked when I tell someone I’m a Design Psychology Coach.

The short answer: Yes and No

My initial reaction to that question tends to bring me right back to my undergraduate days in the Interior Architecture & Design Studio at MIAD where I completed my BFA. During my senior year I was studying the potential impact our home environments have on our mental health and wellbeing as part of my written thesis, but when I broached the subject to my professor, he brushed me off–saying I was headed into the realm of “Feng Shui” and all that nonsense.

At the time I understood he wanted the Interior Design program to be more prestigious–more along the lines of an actual Architecture program, but I still felt there was a deeper connection to this idea of how home affects our health.

For his sake, I dropped the subject while I was in his studio, but I continued to study this theory for years after graduation.

What I remember most, was how his reaction made me feel embarrassed for having such thoughts–which could be why I feel flustered when I get asked if Design Psychology is like Feng Shui, and my initial impulse is to obstinately shout–NO, it’s not! Although there are some borrowed elements/similarities.

Before I really get to answering that, though, many of you may be wondering:

What is Feng Shui??

‘This is a simple question that can be difficult to answer. Feng shui is an ancient art and science developed over 3,000 years ago in China. It is a complex body of knowledge that reveals how to balance the energies of any given space to assure health and good fortune for people inhabiting it.

Feng means wind and shui means water. In Chinese culture wind and water are associated with good health, thus good feng shui came to mean good fortune, while bad feng shui means bad luck, or misfortune.

Feng shui is based on the Taoist vision and understanding of nature, particularly on the idea that the land is alive and filled with Chi, or energy.”


To go any further in depth on this topic would require me to write a book, and there are already plenty of those out there on this topic! Here’s a good one if you’re curious:

How is Design Psychology similar to Feng Shui?

Design Psychology is similar to Fung Shui in that it addresses the energetic imprint of your home. Meaning–as a Design Psychology Coach and Empathic Interior Designer, I assess where there is energetic friction within your environment. This could be from poorly placed furnishings or decor, the wrong color choices for your personality, how you subconsciously respond to the objects you choose to surround yourself with, or an excess of material clutter.

How is Design Psychology different from Feng Shui?

Feng Shui is very complex. For example, many practitioners use a Bagua Map to locate where each area of your life such as Love, Health, Money, etc. is represented within the living space. Then, there are very precise steps to take to ensure that the Chi, or energy, is flowing freely throughout those areas in order to bring you good fortune.

In my opinion, it is excessively superstitious and I could never wrap my head around all the “things” you should do to promote good fortune–but I will admit, I have studied it in the past and have even tried a few things for good measure.

Design Psychology on the other hand is less restrictive. It’s an intuitive approach to creating an environment tuned specifically to your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. There aren’t any complex formulas, per se–although it does borrow a few concepts from other traditions of the past.

What is unique to Design Psychology is how it explores your past experience of home, and creates an awareness of how that experience is influencing your current reality. It embraces the idea that you are a unique individual with a particular cultural, societal, and geographical experience that has influenced your personality, your choice in lifestyle, and the way you behave on a daily basis.

Once a solid understanding and awareness of that exists, we are able to create a home environment that functions the way YOU need it to function, while flowing in a way that appeals to your aesthetic sensibilities, supports your health, encourages healing of your past emotional wounds, and truly reflects your unique identity in a way that encourages transformational growth.

Design Psychology may sound complex–but really it isn’t.

It’s a process.

It’s an inner journey with tangible results.

It’s about cultivating an awareness of who you are and what you need most to thrive.

To me–there isn’t any superstition in that. Only concrete action that will bring you more joy and happiness.



Darcey Rojas is the founder of The Compassionate Home. She is a Holistic Designer, Certified Design Psychology Coach, and Green Design Center Trade Partner dedicated to creating positive home environments that heal mind, body, and soul, strengthen family relationships, and nurture our true potential. Her approach to conscious home and lifestyle design involves designing spaces that meet our needs, encourage good habits, bring us closer to our loved ones, and support our health and wellbeing on a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual level.

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