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Elemental: Designing With Water

In the practice of Feng Shui, the element of water is deeply symbolic. It serves as a physical metaphor for a person’s Qi, or life force, and plays a critical role in the creation of a balanced, harmonious space. After all, the words Feng Shui translate to mean “wind and water” in English.

Though we aren’t strict adherents, we’ve seen first-hand how the addition of even a small pond or fountain can elevate the energy of a room. Visitors to the PAGODA RED gallery are immediately drawn to our colorful fish pond, and often say that it makes the space feel like a secret, peaceful oasis.

Monumental Cloud Glaze Fish Pond | Dia: 22.25″ H: 21.0″

Bringing the beauty of a water feature into your home, whether it includes fish, water plants or—for the commitment averse—floating decorative objects that can be frequently changed (such as our marble duck), is easier than you might think. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you consider incorporating this timeless element into your space.

Japanese Double Gourd Hibachi | H: 14.0″ Dia: 21.0″

An ornate antique planter, like our Eternity Vessel (below), is the perfect counterpoint to a modern, minimalist arrangement, like floating blooms, votives or Water Lettuce—a low maintenance free-floating water plant. The dark brown glossy glaze makes for a dramatic, moody backdrop—fitting, as Feng Shui considers water to be deeply mysterious.

Eternity Vessel | c. 1900 | Dia: 22.5″ H: 22.75″

Alternately, the bright-white interior of a grandly-scaled porcelain pot, like our Blue and White Fish Bowl, would look stunning with a school of vibrant-orange Koi swimming inside, or with the green leaves and purple flowers of a Water Hyacinth cresting the water’s surface. Tip: Placing a water feature near a home’s front entrance is said to encourage an influx of financial wealth.

Blue and White Fish Bowl | Dia: 22.5″ H: 20.25″

If you plan to introduce Koi or other fish, you’ll need to oxygenate the water with the help of a bubbler. Allowing the water to sit uncovered for 24 hours, is an easy way to dechlorinate. However, if your water contains Chloramine (check with your municipality), a charcoal filter will be necessary. When designing a fish pond that includes a water garden, plant the garden, and give it about a week to settle in before adding fish.

A traditional Feng Shui pond contains eight brightly-colored Koi and one black. The colorful fish are said to attract abundance, while the black neutralizes bad luck. On the other hand, a pond with just two Koi is thought to encourage love and fidelity.

Fish pond in the PAGODA RED gallery

Placing your vessel in an area where it will receive ample light, and planting it with a combination of submerged, floating and marginal, or bog plants will make for a happy, healthy ecosystem. The variety of plantings work in concert to aerate and clean the water, and to offer shady respite for fish when the sun is high. What’s more, a mix creates more visual interest, calling you in to take a closer look.

Marble Floating Duck | W: 9.75″ D: 7.0″ H: 5.75″

Water features have long figured into indoor and outdoor design, from the formal pools of Mughal emperors to the Zen naturalism of Chinese ponds—the appeal is universal. Whether you ascribe to the principles of Feng Shui, or just love the meditative quality that water can provide, it’s a simple way to bring the beauty and balance of the natural world into your home.


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