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A Feng Shui office

There are plenty of helpful guides out there if you’re looking to give your workspace some much needed organizational TLC. But only one method for arranging objects has been around several thousand years, Feng Shui.

It’s popularity probably comes from claims that a Feng Shui office can boost your positive energy. But whether you’re interested in the spirtual aspect or just looking for a way to sort your chaotic work area out, a Feng Shui office may be worth considering.

Is Feng Shui right for you?

A simple question, to which we have 3 simple answers….

Yin-Yang symbolYou could do with a blast of positive energy at work. It’s not unreasonable to ask if a practice that is thousands of years old is doing something right. When you consider how much time most of us spend at our desks, a bit of balance and harmony with your workspace might be just what you need.

cartoon image of head containing storm cloudsPerhaps you just want to give their desk a more personal feel. Studies show that a personalized workspace can do wonders for workplace morale and creativity. A Feng Shui desk will encourage you to think about the parts of your life that matter and find a place for them at work

Illustration of an organized deskOr maybe you’re simply looking for an easy way to organize your workspace. Feng Shui provides a handy method for putting a chaotic desk in order.

A bite-size history of Feng Shui

Before we get into how to create a Feng Shui desk, it’s worth getting to know more about the origins of this mysterious idea.

Feng Shui has its roots in ancient cosmology. It literally translates as ‘Wind Water’ and seeks to place objects in balance with their surroundings.

The technique started life in ancient China , possibly as early as 3500 BC. It was first used for placing burial tombs in harmony with their environment. Over time, it became more widely used to help design temples, gardens and public buildings.

Early astronomy was a huge influence on the emergence of Feng Shui. The ancient Chinese were leading the world in understanding the stars several millennia ago, just around the time Feng Shui gained prominence. Some say the invention of the first magnetic compass (Han dynasty) is due to the importance of Feng Shui to the rulers of ancient China.

At the heart of the technique is a desire to find balance with the earthly elements, which are believed to reflect the competing energies of life itself. Unseen forces that bind us to our environment, which is considered especially important for placing buildings.

The 5 earthly elements:

Hands holding soil
Fire and flames
wooden logs
clean water and bubbles
Metal working blacksmith

The method: place buildings (later objects) to maximize the flow of Qi or ch’i (life force). This is achieved by balancing competing elements.

Balance is famously represented by Yin and Yang, which reflects masculinity and femininity.

The techniques and principles have been shaped and refined by several historic schools of thought. As such, much of what we see as Feng Shui today is rooted in these early teachings.

Over the millennia, it remained an important part of Chinese culture, surviving even the Cultural Revolution. It also remained popular Taiwan and Hong Kong.

At a relatively recent point in its long timeline, Feng Shui also became a global phenomenon. One reasons is because of the bagua map A technique so easy to use, it can be applied to any conventional space, including your desk.

Bagua Map for Desks

The bagua (pa kuamap is widely used for creating Feng Shui spaces, from offices to homes. This is because is removes the need for a magnetic compass and ancient instructions.

Ba Gua translates to ‘eight sections/areas’, referring to 8 fundamental aspects of your everyday life [wealth, family, love etc.]. In turn, these are linked to the 5 earthly elements.

We know the concept first appeared in the text, ‘I Ching, the book of changes‘, from around the 9th Century BC.

Each section was represented in the original bagua symbol by trigrams. With broken lines and unbroken lines representing Yin [female] and Yang [male]. You can see how that original trigram looked in the centre of our bagua map.

Today, most practitioners rely upon the more straightforward bagua map, commonly depicted as a square with 9 sections.

You simply layer the template over your desk [or office] and organize it according to the 8 sections.

How to use the bagua map

For the full Feng Shui effect, you would need to organize the space so the elements and their competing energies in balance.

This is an important point. For example, when locating the bathroom in a Feng Shui house, you’ll want to avoid the ‘power and wealth’ section. Unless you’re happy to (metaphorically) flush your wealth down the toilet!

Each section of the bagua map covers an important aspect of your everyday life. And the sections are arranged according to points on the compass.

Important: South is considered the prime direction in Feng Shui and is therefore placed at the top of the bagua map. When applied to a desktop, this is the front of your desk.

Frankly, you might not need to read on. One you’re equipped with the bagua map, you’re good to go. But it’s worth reading on, we’ve got few more tips to help you get your Feng Shui office just right.

Each section of the bagua map covers an important aspect of your everyday life. And the sections are arranged according to points on the compass.

Important: South is considered the prime direction in Feng Shui and is therefore placed at the top of the bagua map. When applied to a desktop, this is the front of your desk.

How to arrange a Feng Shui desk

Before you go to town on your desk, you should first think about what you need on there. And what you want, which may not be the same. Ideally, you will have what you need to get the job done along with some cherished personal items.

Next, try to match your desk items up with the areas that matter to you on the bagua map. You’ll be doing even better if you can match up elements and colours too.

For example, if you have a desk plant, it could be placed in the ‘Power and Wealth’ section. Not only will it fill the ‘Soft Wood’ section, it might help your wealth grow. 

On the other hand, you might want to display a cherished family photo. That would sit well in the ‘Love/Relationships’ section.

The centre of the map, represented by the earth element, is your well-being or physical health. This section of your desk should be left as clear as possible, to absorb the energy surrounding it. Plus, you need somewhere you can actually get some work done!

For practical reasons, you might not be able to place everything you need in a relevant area. This might especially apply to such essentials as your monitor, keyboard or lamp for example. But there should still be plenty of scope in other areas of your desk.

Don’t overcrowd your desk though. Feng Shui is about balanced organization, not cluttering your desk with competing energies.

Unless you’re a high flyer, your desk space might be quite limited. This can make it difficult to match everything neatly. For this reason, you might need to make some compromises, particularly when trying to align with the colours on the bagua map.

For each area, you should align items in the following order of preference:

#1 Life Factors

#2 Core Elements

#3 Color

Don’t totally ignore the colour marking though.  The squares on our bagua map have appropriate colours. Red = fire, for example. This can be another way to provide balance if you’re redecorating your office or adding new items to your desk. But there’s no need to get the paintbrush out if your current desktop items don’t match up.

What to put on a Feng Shui desk

Balance is important for good Feng Shui, so you’re may only want to arrange the items already on your desk.

But if your desk is looking a bit bare, you might be wondering what you could include on your desk for a dose of positive energy.

Here’s a few examples. All for ‘life factors’ that just about everyone would appreciate a boost in…


If your pay packet feels light each month, this might be an area you want to focus on.

Feng Shui office desk plants are perfect for the Wealth section (top left), which is represented by soft wood.

Not only are plants considered positive Feng Shui [reflecting growth], there are numerous studies that show plants can improve workplace wellbeing. What is more, they might even remove a few airborne toxins from your office, which can only be positive Feng Shui.

When choosing a plant, you want to find ones that will thrive in your office. Aim for low-light plants that are easy to care for.

Here’s a few that can make ideal office plants

  • Jade Plant [aka the Money plant]
  • Peace Lily [beautiful and easy to look after]
  • Areca Palm [easy-care, can grow tall and suitable for space around a desk]
  • Chinese Evergreen, Aglaonema [A hardy plant with strong air-cleaning credentials]
Jade Plant (Crassula Ovata)
Jade Plant
Peace Lily in white vase
Peace Lily
Potted Areca Palm
Areca Palm
Chinese Evergreen Aglaonema
Chinese Evergreen

One plant you should avoid though if you’re serious about Feng Shui:

  • Cactus [as in nature, they’re not friendly plants].
Fame and Reputation

A lamp will help reduce eye strain. It also recommended by Feng Shui practitioners to ensure you are not sharing a light source.

Typically, this would be placed in the upper middle corner of your desk on the ‘Fame’ area [top middle] of the Bagua map, to represent fire.  A red lamp here would be ideal.


A photo of your loved one can be placed in the ‘Love and Relationships‘ section [top right]. What ever happens, you’re bound to get some credit should they ever drop by unannounced.

On the other hand, if you need a leg-up in the dating game, some flowers here might just give your love life a boost.


Learning book/inspirational quotes – Personal development is always desirable, but it’s not easy when you’re hitting deadlines and working long hours. A cherished quote or a book you’re reading would be well placed here. And it’ll be on hand to inspire you whenever you have a moment’s respite.

Feng Shui Desk Placement

Unsurprisingly, how you position your desk matters in Feng Shui. After all, Feng Shui originated as a method for placing tombs.

Unfortunately, most of us can’t just uproot our desk and take over another corner of the office. But if you can move your desk, even a little bit, these are the most important factors you should consider to maximize the positive energy.

  • Place your desk so you’re sitting opposite the entrance to your office. Aside from making sense on a practical level, Feng Shui identifies this as a commanding position. Importantly, you will see opportunities as they arise, quite literally as ‘one door opens’
  • If you can’t face the entrance, use a well-placed mirror. You will be able to still see those opportunities as they arrive (or get off the internet quickly before the boss sees you)
  • Windows behind you can create vulnerability. You also miss out on the positive energy from the sun and, potentially, an uplifting view
  • Unsurprisingly, facing a wall is considered to be particularly negative for Feng Shui [and generally a bit boring]. If you cannot relocate your desk to face a window, a mirror can once again be your friend.

What about the desk itself?

One final piece of the jigsaw is the desk itself. Specifically, the shape, color and material it is made of.

This might be something else you’re unable to do anything about. But if you are lucky enough to be in the market for a new bureau, here’s a few pointers for a Feng Shui friendly desk.

Size – Not much for you to worry about here, although a reasonable sized desk is recommended. You want a space that allows for some personalization without feeling too cluttered. If you can, avoid a desk that is so big that well-used items will be out of reach

Material – Wood and metal are important elements on the Bagua map and get the thumbs up. Wood is considered especially positive for natural energy, while metal links up with sharpness and precision of thought


  • Bright, distracting colors are thought to make the mind restless
  • Dull lifeless colors, like grey, are considered energy draining colors
  • Black is thought to aid introspection
  • White energizes the mind
  • Positives are found in most other colors


  • The classic rectangular shape is grounding and potentially aids concentration
  • A curved desk is believed to encourage creative thought, although is not ideal if you need to concentrate on tasks. The same applies to an ‘L’ shaped desk.

Thanks for reading.

Yin Yang Symbol

Yin Yang Symbol

And for all you Feng Shui desk converts, may the Qi 

be with you…

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