I’ve had my mid-century interior design books out a lot the past month. We purchased a new flat screen TV and despite the design possibilities it adds, it also creates a ton of design dilemmas. The 1950s home designers never pictured a room designed around a TV, much less a flat screen that hung on the wall. According to the Ladies Home Journal Book of Interior Decorating, “Television need never dominate a room but it must be available without a great shifting of furniture.” However, back then built in TVs were quite common.
As I was pondering my design dilemma, I read a lot about room flow and traffic patterns. Traffic patterns were a central design feature in interior design in the 1950s. Most design books of the period emphasize how to get through a room and walk around furniture more than conversation groups. They thought about conversation groups, but not at the expense of good “flow.”
This sounds completely foreign in today’s design world ... or does it? I started thinking about Feng Shui with the general desire to have a home clutter-free and have the chi flow through the home. Isn’t this basically substituting air flow for a traffic pattern?
Feng Shui translates literally to “wind-water.” Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese art of placement. The goal of Feng Shui is to achieve harmony, comfort, and balance, first in ones environment and then in one’s life.
This picture that I posted ages ago shows what they termed in the 1980s as “spin art furniture,” which is, essentially, furniture all arranged along the walls. But it definitely has a Feng Shui feeling to the air flow and the movement in the room. Clean clutter-free design is also central to Feng Shui as well as 1950s design. The other parallel between the 1950s and Feng Shui is the use of Asian art in design. Clean lines along with cherry blossoms, floral prints, and other Asian motifs make the blending of these two design styles quite logical.
So, instead of dismissing 1950s design style as passé, maybe it’s better to think about how it translates into the new Feng Shui ideals. The two may have more in common than you ever considered.
Photo courtesy of Frequently Wrong But Never In Doubt