By Mary Smith 2:41 pm PST

As more and more Chinese are being exposed to Western interior design concepts, they too are bringing some of their customs and traditions to the table to blend and build a bridge between the two cultures within the design industry.

Since the 1960’s, the ancient art of Feng Shui has been incorporated more frequently by Westerner’s when making design decisions. Feng Shui, developed over 3000 years ago in China, is a Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing the human interaction between people, buildings (homes), and their close surroundings. It is a complex body of knowledge that reveals how to balance the energies of any given space to assure health and good fortune for the people in the dwelling.

Feng means wind and Shui means water. In Chinese culture, wind and water are associated with good health; thus good Feng Shui came to mean good fortune. Feng Shui is being introduced more frequently into conventional and mainstream aspects of today’s society rather than just the new age audience that it has been associated with in the past.

Blending the East and West Design Concepts

Chinese and Americans have found that to work with an interior designer that has both Western design skills and Feng Shui knowledge helps to create a more supportive environment for them to succeed and flourish in their home and work space. Susanne Bacino, president and founder, of Atmospheres Interior Design in Rancho Santa Fe, California, with over 35 years of experience, is such a designer.

While not Chinese, Susanne’s love of Chinese and Asian artifacts came from her many visits with her grandmother as a little girl. Susanne remembers loving the beautiful Chinese tables with mother-of-pearl inlayed details. She found the details spectacular and special because, “You just didn’t see that kind of detail in the contemporary furniture of the 1960’s. I just loved her home. It was like magic to me.”

This was the catalyst for her life-long journey into the attention to detail for her clients. It was a natural fit to blend the two design concepts of both cultures. “I think it is a very harmonious and a pleasant combination. I have a passion for great design and commitment to excellence. The human environment and your experience of life is greatly influenced by the spaces you live, work and play in. Improve the quality of life by surrounding yourself with an interior that functions well and is pleasing to you and your family.”

The Design for Comfort Living


Susanne Bacino see her designs as “one piece… from ceiling to floor, from colors to decorations, from locations to directions; they all help each other.” When you are in her home, you can feel the energy flow and balance. It is like the Chinese saying “harmony between heaven and human.”

To be able to developed her sense of design in a style which combines the Eastern and Western influence, she  explores with an open mind how to create solutions that enables an innate instinct to incorporate the principles of Feng Shui.

With a four-year degree in interior design and architecture planning, it was important for her to be a professional designer and have the proper background in drafting and structural knowledge to be able to work with builders and be a part of the team for the client. She also has that element that one can’t learn from a class… the artistic gift from within. She also listens carefully to her client’s needs and blends both the need for function and at the same time creates unique atheistically beautiful solutions that are customized for each individual client.

Susanne is aware of the changing times when it comes to buying home furnishings. “While clients can buy almost anything online, it is not easy to make the right choices. If the way a house functions or quality of the product is not carefully considered, it may be a very costly mistake on the part of the homeowner. The fee one pays the interior designer can more than pay for itself by saving the client from making even one costly disappointing mistake.”

Her opinion is that your home is your most important possession and you should invest in it wisely. It is a place that belongs to you, and it is connected to the quality of your living. She has found for her Chinese clients this is often a new concept. “In addition to the purchase of the home, the investment should also include the interior furnishings, art and accessories to create the total harmony and add to the quality of life. ”

As a designer, Suzanne is able to combine the elegant comfort of new items with the special details of Chinese treasures and antiques which she has collected from all around the world. She is able to create a practical as well as functional home atmosphere and make it flow together as one concept… the flow of sensation for everyone to enjoy.