Monday, March 16, 2009

Special Design

This is a TV show of two famous political commentators in Hong Kong debating over certain issues. Note the design of the room where the heated debate takes place. Do you think it serves the purpose?


Teresa Hwang Feng Shui & Design said...

Dear Master Yu,

In terms of time & space - Ji Chou year, Feng Shui & interior design, the room has a good flow of qi - Earth, Metal, Water and a balance of yin & yang.

Of course the commentators can provide very lively debate and entertainment.

I guess someone knows the business very well.

Best regards,


Mary Catherine Bax said...

Dear Joseph and Teresa,

I agree with Teresa about the good flow of qi. The design from the ceiling is stellar.

Heated debates? I doubt we see too many of them. They may find themselves too agreeable.


Howard said...

It all depends on what the purpose of the show is, if it is to allow the two commentators to fight and to dispute each other in an excited way, then the set has succeeded; but if the aim of the debates is to present each other’s points of view in a civilized give-and-take way, then the set has failed.

The Tijitu 太極圖 (Taiji diagram) which the set design is based on has three distinct characters, the curved line in the middle expressed the concept of “fen yin yang” (separate the yin and yang) 分陰陽 , the two dots the concept of “hua yin yang” (transform the yin and yang) 化陰陽 and the circle the concept of “tong yin yang” (penetrate and connect the yin and yang) 通陰陽.

By emphasising on the dividing curve, the set encourages separation and division of opposite ideas, instead of the coming together of opposing views to form an understanding and a consensus, which an open circle is often the most appropriate. But in this case, the circle is broken and down played whereas the dividing curve is continuous and accentuated; thus the two commentators sitting opposite and divided, will be encouraged by the form to disagree and to fight instead of finding an alternative point of view in each other.

Also, by having everything in circular shapes, the set allows the Metal element to dominate and encourages the tendency of arguing and stabbing at each other with cutting words in a black and white way, which again is reinforced by the black and white colour scheme of the set with the two presenters dressed in red like two fire balls hurling at each other.

By interpreting the Taijitu in such a literal and simplistic way, the set shows a lack of refinement and subtlety, which will in turn stimulate the commentators to behave in such a way as well, if they are not already that way. It is a set for a typically cheap television series using political debates as entertainment; the result is rough, noisy and excitable but ultimately un-informative.

If that is the sort of sensational debates that the Hong Kong audience craved for, then they have got just the right set for it, but the vulgarity is far from what good Feng Shui is about - being simple and harmonious in a naturalistic way, which the Daoist would called “danran” 淡然 by being “wuwei”無為.

The RTHK show is called “Face to Face” in English and “Ji Bian” 激辨 or Excited Disputes in Chinese:

An article about set design and furniture affecting presidential debates in America: http:/

Howard said...

Hi Joseph,

The link to the article should read:



Howard said...

Here is a good example IMO of how a set design should be done to encourage discussion and debate.

No divisions separating the speakers and the speakers with the audience, no fancy symbols, and no "look-at-me, look-at-me!" design that overshadowed the subject matter; just a low table, three chairs and a warm background, plus thoughtful editing. That is all.