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NYIAD Feng Shui Student Renate Bell

By Sarah Van Arsdale on March 21, 2010

After many years in business, the NYIAD School launched a new program to supplement the NYIAD Complete Course in Interior Design. By evaluating popular trends in design and listening to what students and graduates asked for, the School decided that a course in Feng Shui Interior Design was needed, and so it was born in 2003.

Since then, we've had thousands of students, who are now working as everything from Feng Shui consultants to individual clients to artists working in stained glass.

NYIAD Student Renate Bell

One of our Feng Shui Interior Design Course students, Renate Bell, is planning to launch her professional practice as a Feng Shui consultant in Spring 2010. She has already begun assisting family and friends with their Feng Shui projects, even as she is finishing up the program this spring. She says that what she enjoys most about working with Feng Shui is its inclusiveness.

"Feng Shui includes everything — every part of life. Every object in the room. Every color, texture, pattern, shape. It's fascinating," Bell said.

"Especially when you realize that this inclusiveness is really pointing a finger at the spirit, heart, and psyche of the person or resident of a particular space, revealing their psychological make-up, their issues, their fears, their hopes, their love and relationships, their families, their careers, their health, their prosperity, their spiritual well being."

Once Bell receives her certificate from the NYIAD School, she'll move forward with business licensure "and all the paperwork that goes along with it, as well as a Web site."

Through her studies, Bell has learned how to evaluate a person's home in a way that allows her to consider the person's whole self and life, and then to work with placement, color, and elements in order to support desired changes in the person's life.

Renate Bell floor plan

"Feng Shui continually amazes me when a client's issue or particular condition, be it personal or architectural, is clearly evident in their home environment," she said.

Bell has always been drawn to Feng Shui, even when she a child and didn't have a word for it. "I drove my mother crazy by changing my room around every week. So the interest in the placement of furniture and accessories started early. I guess I had an inherent eye for aesthetic, harmonious environments, and the instinct to implement creative ways to achieve a particular look or function," she said.

That instinct was encouraged and educated when Bell started reading up on Feng Shui, and then took a local workshop in it. She then found her way to the NYIAD Feng Shui Interior Design Course.

"As someone who grew up in nature, with trees, lakes, streams, waterfalls, fields, and rolling hills all around me, I was drawn to the basic principles right away," she said. "As someone who meditates daily, I was thrilled to witness the beautiful marriage of the feng shui principles, that of harmonizing the outer self and its surroundings, and the inner work through meditation, that of harmonizing the inner self. So I knew I wanted to learn how to design, decorate, and arrange with purpose using the rich and ancient wisdom of Feng Shui."

Bell brings to her work a background in design, with a degree in Interior and Architectural Design from Cazenovia College in upstate New York in the 1980s.

"Then I somehow cornered myself into the commercial building industry working in estimating and detailing for a distributor," she said. "Don't get me wrong. I'm completely grateful for the work and the experience. But creative it is not. To appease my personal and spiritual needs over the years, I grew increasingly interested in more intuitive subjects, such as astrology and meditation, which in a roundabout manner led me to Feng Shui."

While studying at NYIAD and working in feng shui hasn't changed the way Bell sees the world, it has reinforced her thinking. "Feng Shui reminds me — and I'll remind my clients — that mindfulness, awareness, and active creation is key to manifesting what you want in your life, what you want for yourself and your family," she said.

Renate Bell floor plan

"You know, it's not 'just a room', it's your space, your place to reflect the best you can and live in that positive vibe. It is a reflection of who you are. Perhaps the biggest change in thinking is in my shopping habits. After studying feng shui, purchases are made with much more care, planning, and thoughtfulness. I've also become a big advocate for decluttering. It's a great feeling to get rid of stuff. What an energy boost!"

Not surprisingly, Bell has "feng shuied" her home and office, and only wishes she had a bigger budget for it.

Bells sees Feng Shui as a scientific and intuitive art that "explores the natural world and shows our connection and relationship to it."

The practice suits Bell, especially as she is also a certified Vedic Astrologer. She sees the commonalities among various philosophies, and enjoys bringing in their principles to help make the world better — one room or one person at a time.

"The natal chart. The bagua. The constellations. The directions. The signs. The elements. The polarity of the pairs of opposites and balancing their effects. The Yin-Yang. The energy towards us from the planets. The energy from within us, from our consciousness — they are time-honored, tried and true, subtle and powerful tools to help us obtain greater meaning and understanding of ourselves and our place in the universe. I look forward to assisting people with Feng Shui, as much, if not more, than I have with astrology."

Bell will base her business in Charleston, South Carolina, but her consultations will be available to anyone via the Internet.