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Book Review: EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience by Debra Duneier

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“Green” is no longer a fringe phenomenon. The desire to tread more lightly on the Earth has been embraced by everyone from your next-door-neighbor to the CEO of Wal-Mart and every day more people are asking how they can lessen their negative impact on the natural world.

Debra Duneier debuts her unique blend of design principles in EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience (New Voices Press, 2011). At a turning point in her life, Duneier was told by a Chinese master of acupuncture that she was stuck, but that she also had a gift that she should not waste. That gift, she discovered, was developing a method for creating warm, welcoming, and healthy indoor environments through a blend of feng shui, green and sustainable living, and environmental psychology.

Although they range from the ancient to the very modern, these three concepts actually complement each other quite well and it’s surprising that no one has thought to join them before. Feng shui, the practice of purposefully arranging elements within a space to balance energy flows, is an ancient Chinese art.

To this, Duneier adds the modern concepts of sustainable design planning that she mastered as a LEED green associate. Finally, she uses environmental psychology, the study of how people are affected by the spaces around them, to assess and adjust in order to achieve maximum harmony.

Together, they are EcoChi, a way of thoughtfully planning the spaces we inhabit that is sensitive to both our own well-being as well as that of the natural world.

Each lesson is told through the experiences of one of her clients. Doing so gives concrete examples for the reader on how these somewhat abstract ideas can be and have been implemented in real life.

And for some, the transformation has been life-altering. She includes advice on decluttering, space clearing rituals, avoiding toxins, and welcoming prosperity.

Not limited to use in the domestic sphere, Duneier demonstrates how her principles can be employed in offices, public spaces, as well as second homes.

You won’t find a complete manual to overhauling your own space within these pages, but you will find inspiration and a place to start through a variety of easy tips that you can use today to bring a little bit of peace and calm to your home sanctuary.

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