Ancient Chinese Tradition of Feng Shui Reimagined To Fit Into The Modern World Of Appliances

Smart technology isn’t a very new concept anymore but with the promise of holistic well-being combined with technology, designer Yoojin Chung takes a satirical swipe at the Western interpretation of feng shui with her ingenious project, “Capturing Qi.” This trio of digital devices, born out of Chung’s critique of the commodification of ancient practices, offers a whimsical take on harnessing positive energy in the modern home.

Designer: Yoojin Chung

Drawing on her roots in South Korea, Chung’s project serves as a playful commentary on how feng shui, an ancient Chinese practice rooted in the flow of positive energy or qi, has been repackaged into consumer products promising health and fortune. With a keen eye for irony, Chung transforms three iconic feng shui objects – the crystal ball, the wind chime, and the water fountain – into dynamic smart-home devices, all controllable through a smartphone app.

This series of devices blurs the line between tradition and technology, reimagining familiar feng shui elements through a contemporary lens. Each device, whether it’s the spinning crystal, the swaying wind chimes, or the flowing water, creates a visual illusion of energy flow reminiscent of the traditional objects they imitate. Equipped with Arduino circuit boards, these devices seamlessly integrate into the smart home ecosystem, offering users the ability to manipulate their surroundings with just a few taps on their smartphones.

Yet, beneath the whimsy lies a deeper reflection on the human desire for control and success. Chung cleverly infuses her devices with a sense of agency, suggesting that the more one activates them, the greater their chances of success. It’s a nod to our innate yearning for control over our destinies, even as we seek solace in ancient practices like feng shui.

What sets these appliances apart is the thoughtful nod to scientific aesthetics, drawing inspiration from 18th-century scientific apparatus like vacuum chambers. By infusing the devices with the trappings of scientific equipment, it invites users to reconsider their relationship with feng shui in the context of modernity. The wind chime, suspended like a scientific instrument, prompts contemplation on the subtle nuances of object placement and their symbolic meanings in feng shui.

As a graduate of the MA Contextual Design program at Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE), Chung joins a cohort of designers pushing the boundaries of traditional design paradigms. Her work exemplifies the program’s ethos of challenging conventional norms and exploring the intersection of culture, technology, and design. In an era where ancient practices collide with cutting-edge technology, Yoojin Chung’s “Capturing Qi” serves as a poignant reminder of the ever-evolving nature of design and its role in shaping our lived experiences.