Feng Shui for Architecture: an interview with Rhonna Del Rio Ascolese
by: Valeria Buldini
A few years after graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture from Cal Poly Pomona, Rhonna Del-Rio Ascolese discovered Feng Shui when she received two books on ancient Chinese philosophy from her father. Instantly she felt that she had to pursue it personally. It did not become apparent to her to follow it professionally until her family and friends grew respectful to her recommendations and asked for it regularly. She started incorporating Feng Shui with growing intensity to her personal design projects and soon enough her clients wanted the same for their own homes. One great result after another, Rhonna pushed it to the next level and took the certificate as a Feng Shui Professional (CFSP). Now if asked what architecture has to do with Feng Shui, she just replies "it has everything to do with it".
What does this Chinese philosophy add to your work as a designer?
Feng Shui contributes a way or a method to the placement of the elements used or incorporated in any building. It creates a guideline for how each element can co-exist in each building, room or any space. Together there is a certain rhythm or melody that happens in a space. In almost any case of architecture one does not want a space too hot, too cold, or too much of one element; however, even then with the help of Feng Shui there is way to locate where these areas can be best situated within the entire floor plan or building. For a space to serve balance for the end user, all the elements need to be aligned just right with each other in the creating and nurturing cycle such as: fire creates earth, earth creates metal, metal creates water, water creates wood and the cycle begins when wood creates fire.
How challenging can it be to make Feng Shui work with architecture?
As any other form of co-existing, architecture and Feng Shui also have their challenges. As a designer, I need to express my concepts in certain ways to remain true to my excitement and imagination by experimenting with various combinations of material, colors and shapes. Ultimately, the goal is to create a space where these elements can benefit from each other in a nourishing way and to marry my clients' vision with my own as their designer and Feng Shui consultant. These situations at times have had my client and I going in circles for solution and weighing how it can all be in good rhythm with each other. In all my experience I've found that a beautiful solution and balanced composition is always created when combining architecture philosophy with ancient Feng Shui philosophy.
Can Feng Shui be used with any kind of room?
Absolutely. In fact Feng Shui, not known to many, is actually used in any space from an entire country, state, city, building, house, room, or the desk in any room and can be applied to something as small as business cards and clothing.
Why should we choose Feng Shui when building/designing our home?
There are many reasons and we could spend an entire day going over some of them but to give an example, Feng Shui works with the energies and forces of the earth's surface. In Feng Shui "drains" act as vacuums where good energy "chi" can get trapped in or fall away from someones space. Certain parts of our homes such as the bathroom or kitchen that require "drains" can either end up in our wealth area or the health area. It would be advisable to know at least the basics of where these "drains" can be best located in a home and any other prevention methods to avoid any good energy dedicated to wealth or health going down the "drain".
How expensive can it be to design our home following Feng Shui?
Except for the fees of a Feng Shui consultant, there is no difference in designing a home with or without Feng Shui. This Chinese philosophy works in how things are placed within the space. For example, a house using Feng Shui will also have as many bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and the same roof, paint, furniture, fixtures appliances. The art of placement of these things is where Feng Shui comes in.
What kind of clients hire you?
They all have different career backgrounds such as: mortgage loan officers, designers, government workers, communication specialists, mothers, hair stylists, actors, yoga teachers, the list goes on. Feng Shui can help anyone wanting to incorporate balance and harmony in their lives.
At which phase of their home building/designing should clients hire you as a Feng Shui consultant?
Feng Shui philosophy can come in at any time of the project process and can work with whatever existing condition the project is at. However, the ideal time would be from the beginning phase when a concept hasn't been fully realized. I am able to do both building design using my architecture education and experience along with Feng Shui from the initial birth of the building concept all the way through the physical manifestation of the design. Also, when I am hired as a Feng Shui consultant to work with an architect or another designer the best time is in the very beginning so that I may explain a quick overview of the Feng Shui principles and basics to keep in mind while the hired architect or other designer pull an overall concept for the home. Then during the progress it is advisable that I am invited between certain time lapse so I may double check that things are staying as intended. Even though combining Feng Shui from the very beginning is easier, there is always a remedy for all conditions.
What kind of requests do you get from your clients?
I follow a strict rule and courtesy to keep my clients personal lives and requests private. But in general there are nine sectors on the Ba gua and each one takes a role in our lives, they are: family, wealth, health, mentor/travel, children/creativity, knowledge, fame/reputation, career and love/marriage. Each client would ask for certain areas of their lives to be enhanced and we start from there.
Have you ever had bizarre requests?
There had been some but it was more based on not knowing how Feng Shui really works, so it was more funny to hear and it became a great conversation starter.
Which are the most popular current trends in Feng Shui applied to architecture?
The remedies or adjustments are all based on the type of elements so I don't know if those elements would be considered a trend. However, fountains maybe the most auspicious and recommended to bring and invite "chi" (good energy) into any home and other buildings. If one was to research data of how many exterior or interior fountains sold this year versus last year, I think we would see a jump for total sold on record.
Does your home follow Feng Shui principles?
I maintain my home with the same Feng Shui principles I provide for my clients. As we need a regular physical check up at the doctors' and as much as we need to maintain our cars, we also need to reconfigure, maintain and provide a check up for the Feng Shui / good chi in the space we live or work in. What I do is when a certain part of my life feels somewhat "off" then I walk around my place and adjust those areas in each room. I recommend for all my clients to do the same, either by contacting me for a review "check up" consultation or by themselves using the documents mapping the Ba gua of their place with notes of recommendations for each room that I provide for them during the first consultation.