ELEMENTAL INFLUENCERS
Architectural Maven Gulla Jonsdottir:
A Rare Alluring Blend of Global Chic + Soulful Design

Architect and designer Gulla Jonsdottir elevates metal to an unparalleled level of sophistication in her furniture and accent designs . At left: her Branca Dining Table. At right: her Lace Mirror. Photo of Gulla by Brooke Mason and furniture photography by Jesus Banuelos. 

Architect and designer Gulla Jonsdottir elevates metal to an unparalleled level of sophistication in her furniture and accent designs. At left: her Branca Dining Table. At right: her Lace Mirror. Photo of Gulla by Brooke Mason and furniture photography by Jesus Banuelos. 

She's the architect behind the award-winning Cabo Azul Resort in Mexico.  Has a crème de la crème architectural and design portfolio that includes Richard Meier and Partners, Dodd Mitchell Design, and Walt Disney Imagineering. And she's the founder of her own firm G+ Design where in addition to architectural projects, she also creates unique beautiful furniture merging wood and steel in a seriously refreshing style. These are just a few of the reasons I've been drawn to renowned architect and designer Gulla Jonsdottir since encountering her stunning work last year. Her earthy, sleek, and refined mix of materials come together to produce unforgettable spaces such as the Supper Club Beirut in Lebanon and the Red O Restaurant in Los Angeles. Whether it's her architecture, interiors, or product designs, each aspect of Gulla's work reflects the alluring vision of a true design maven who relishes travel, art, and the artistic talents of mother nature.

So, when it comes to feng shui and aligning your ideal residential or commercial space, Gulla’s work speaks to me on such a strong and rare level. Her particular use of metal within her vast range of work is nothing short of inspiring. With metal being one of the five fundamental elements for feng shui’ing your space, I met with Gulla to get insight into her fresh approach to designing with this beautiful element.

Sunny:  The metal element is used so exquisitely in many of your product designs ranging from tables to screens to hanging pendants. What is it about the metal element that attracts you and compels you to use it?  

Gulla: I I think it’s a powerful and strong medium.  And I do enough feminine curves in my plasterwork so it’s nice to have this contradiction of a little bit of masculine steel. Also, I have a steel artist that I like to work with and he just does it so beautifully. 

Sunny: One of my favorite pieces from your product collection, the Branca Dining Table, beautifully incorporates a bronze inlay into a solid white oak table top. How do you choose which metals and alloys to feature in your products? 

Gulla: I often use stainless steel. I also like brass a lot and I really like cast bronze. I like the warmer metals.

Sunny: In addition to natural materials, many of your products are made with an eco-friendly approach. What does eco-friendly mean to you?

Gulla: I think it’s not just about what you use, it’s also about what lasts. I had this great saying from an old grandfather in France. He said, “I can’t afford to buy cheap. If I buy something cheap, I have to replace it in five years. If I buy a classic design, it will last me forever.” I think that’s more eco-friendly than actually buying, shipping, buying, shipping all the time, something new. So if you buy a classic piece that is usually not a plastic, it’s going to be made by a solid good material and last for a long time. That’s the best eco-friendly way of going about it.

Sunny: In a Tedx talk you gave in 2014 you said, “I feel like nature is really the biggest piece of art that we all own.” What role do you feel natural elements play in creating spaces that nourish us?

Gulla: If you think about it, people going on holiday or their honeymoon or a nice vacation, they like to go to nature. They like to go to the beach or to the mountains or the trees because then you relax. I feel it myself. Even if I’m just driving towards the ocean, as soon as I get closer or just see it, I feel a certain relief of stress.

Sunny: What is one of your favorite spaces on earth and why?

Gulla: It’s actually in my home country of Iceland. I like to be on the black beaches of Iceland next to a glacier but staying really warm in a natural hot spring. 

To view and purchase Gulla’s metal and other nature inspired products: http://www.gplusdesign.com/shop

G+ Design: http://www.gplusdesign.com/

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G + Design on Facebook

For Los Angeles-based residents and visitors, read about and view Gulla’s exclusive curation The oxymoron of a modern Salvador Dali hotel suite with the West Hollywood Design District at the 2015 WestEdge Design Fair: http://www.spacesbysunny.com/sunny-says//hello-dali-the-visual-brilliance-of-the-west-hollywood-design-district

Art QA Magazine:
The Role of Fine Art in Feng Shui

Featured in Art QA Magazine

You’re an art connoisseur. If not only in your own mind, then perhaps as evidenced by that eye-popping gouache you just purchased in Chelsea. Or, maybe your draw towards art is totally utilitarian. Because although you know nothing of color theory, you do know that the bare walls in your new 2000-square-foot apartment are shrieking for more attention than the hungry newborn next door.

Either way, you have an innate realization of the power of art in built spaces. You understand how art can influence our attitudes, emotions, moods, and psychology, when present in our environment.

There’s a name for this broader practice of creatively and intentionally shaping a space to enhance our overall well-being.

It’s called Feng Shui.

As a Classical Feng Shui consultant, I love sharing the principles of Feng Shui with those who want to positively shift their lives by shifting elements in their space. Art can have a profound effect on us, so here we’ll discuss how art fits into the greater equation of Feng Shui. But first, let me explain more precisely what Feng Shui is.

Over 3,000 years old and rooted in Chinese culture, Feng Shui is an ancient system used to harmonize the energy in our environment. It is based on the observation that we as human beings flourish in settings that support us energetically, psychologically, and emotionally, and that when this support is maximized, it can positively influence our relationships, careers, creativity, and health.

The practice of Feng Shui ranges from the ostensibly simple to the highly complex. The Form School of Feng Shui examines how objects in our environment create specific patterns of energy flow and promote either human anxiety or human ease. The Compass School of Feng Shui assesses the energy of a space by using calculations that factor in time and direction, and corrects any energetic imbalances using the five natural elements of fire, earth, metal, water, and wood (live plants).

Together, the Form School and Compass School make up what’s known as Traditional or Classical Feng Shui. For centuries, Feng Shui was recognized as being so powerful that it was kept secret by Chinese royalty.

Fine art is an important influencer within the context of Feng Shui. From the perspective of the Form School, art brings color, light, shape, and imagery that can have a strong impact on our psychological responses and, in the case of shape, can affect energy flow. From the perspective of the Compass School, art constructed from any of the five natural elements, or pigmented by colors associated with these elements, can be used to correct energy imbalances. For your home, condo, or office, here are some of the ways in which art can enhance the Feng Shui of your space:

1. Art can promote a high emotional vibration.

Art can be used in your space to evoke only your most positive feelings and responses. You should never settle on art that that makes you feel ‘so so’, just for the sake of having art around. If you do, then the one feature of a piece that doesn’t feel ‘quite right’ will often become what you focus on when you look at it. This will lower your vibration.

If you simply feel neutral about a piece, it’s better to delay any purchase until you find something that truly inspires you. If you’ve searched high and low with no luck, stop searching. As cliché as it may sound, go with the flow of life and, eventually, the right piece will find you.

2. Art can help you focus on your life’s vision.

Images are extremely powerful, so ask yourself: “What do the images that surround me communicate to me on a daily basis?” If those images are in alignment with your goals, then perfect. If not, then it’s time to make some changes.

For example, if you’re single and want a romantic partner, display art that portrays couples and pairings, (especially in the bedroom), as opposed to people and scenes that are solitary. If you’re looking to increase your financial status, choose office art that communicates wealth and abundance, even if in the abstract. In personal quarters, as long as you understand the meaning that a piece of art has for you, that’s what counts.

Although a piece may have critical acclaim, it still may not stand up to the test of whether or not to display it prominently. A visually stunning and riveting photograph that captures a devastating or sorrowful moment, for example, might be best referred to from the pages of a photo book, unless that’s the dominant energy you want in your space.

3. Art can help ‘set the tone’ for your space.

Placing a great, appropriate piece of art at your entrance is an effective way to ‘set the stage’ for what you want yourself and others to experience in the space. People will immediately know what conversation they’re entering into when they step across the threshold of your home or business. Is your conversation elegance and class? Fun and creativity? Innovation and forward thinking? You make the call.

New energy finds its way into your space via the entrance. Take every opportunity to influence that energy, (including the energy of your guests, clients, or patrons), towards what you want it to be!

4. Art can balance excess ‘Yin’ or ‘Yang’ energy.

‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’ refer to the two primary and polar opposite energies in nature that, when balanced, result in harmony. ‘Yin’ is passive, dark, and cold, while ‘Yang’ is active, bright, and hot. Yin/Yang theory is an important underlying principle in Feng Shui.

When considering what art to bring into a space, take note as to whether the space already feels too ‘Yin’ or too ‘Yang’. Then, use art to help offset any imbalances. For example, if a space feels too small, use landscape paintings or photography with great depth to help it feel extended. If a space is too dark, consider displaying sculpture or 3-D art that has light reflective surfaces.

If a room displays lots of smooth surfaces, opt for art that boasts texture. If the furniture in a space has busy patterns, integrate art with more solid patterns. You get the idea.

5. Art can enhance the function of a room.

Every space has a purpose, and art can be used to promote this purpose. If relaxation is the goal, such as with a bedroom, incorporate art with relaxing imagery, curves and soft lines (as opposed to sharp angles), and colors that are neutral or subdued.

If your goal for a space is to entertain and be festive, incorporate pieces with more saturated colors, sharper line movement or abstract shapes.

In the bedroom, be sure the imagery isn’t a deterrent to intimacy; art depicting individual family members, a family group, or religious themes are best reserved for other areas of the home.

6. Art can promote visual grounding and visual balance.

We feel most comfortable in spaces where our eyes know where to rest. Art can be used to visually ground a space by creating an interesting focal point. If a great focal point is already present, such as a beautiful fireplace or standout piece of furniture, then fine art can be placed above or around the focal point to enhance it.

When hanging art, be sure to mount it such that the center is at eye level for a person of average height. (If people are usually seated in the space, such as with a dining room, lower the center of the piece to seated eye level.) When considering the best size for art intended to hang above a piece of furniture, choose art that is about two-thirds the width of the furniture.

7. Art can weave the five Feng Shui elements into your space.

This is where more detailed knowledge of Feng Shui must be applied. As a Classical Feng Shui consultant, I can map the energy of a space and advise on where to specifically place elements to balance the energy. The great thing about Feng Shui is that you can integrate the five elements, (or colors representing these elements), into your environment in almost any way you wish, including through art.

For example, if you needed the earth element in the southeast portion of your home, you could use a terracotta sculpture. If you needed the metal element at your entrance, a copper wire sculpture on a small side table could do the trick.

The water element could be introduced via an oil painting with brilliant blues and blacks, or even via an artistic water installation. The fire element could occur in the form of a wall sized photograph with a striking red tint, and a watercolor with luscious greens could tie in the wood element where needed. Regardless of your artistic tastes, the options are many.

Using art to promote good Feng Shui is an art in itself. You’ve already been practicing your own form of Feng Shui simply by bringing art into your space! Remember that our surroundings affect us in so many ways, so go ahead and make yours remarkable. 

Hot Topic: Your Best Bedroom Feng Shui

It’s time for some real pillow talk. Your bedroom is probably the most important room in your house, and for obvious reasons. (Play and rest, rest and play.)

So to get terrific slumber and romantic time between the sheets, here are some feng shui guidelines for creating your best boudoir.

1. Positioning is A Big Deal

This isn’t just about comfort, it’s about psychology. To feel optimally supported, your headboard should be placed against a solid wall. And the bed should be placed diagonally from the door, so that the door is in clear view at all times.

Laying with your feet in line with the door is a big feng shui faux pas. After all, how else will you defend yourself against the vampire clown from last night's Netflix feature if you can't see him stealthily creeping into your room?  Ok, maybe you know you’re safe. But your subconscious might not.

2. Knock on Wood, Never Metal

Lots of people have metal bed frames, but if you can get a wooden one then go for it, even if it’s upholstered. Metal frames can amplify electromagnetic fields in your environment, and this can interfere with rest or even become a health risk.

Wooden bed frames also help you to feel grounded, and lend a rich sense of warmth to a room.

3. Watch That Head

When was the last time you looked for a place to nap and thought, “Let me go sleep under a crane, scaffolding, or something else that could crush me?” Exactly.

An exposed beam or a fan hanging over your bed may not seem as ominous as this but, again, that ol’ subconscious may beg to differ.

You can remedy overhead beams by covering them with a “false” ceiling, or if you’ve got royal or glammed up style, choose a bed with a canopy to slumber in ultimate peace.

4.  Mirror, Mirror…NOT On Your Bedroom Walls

You may have heard this before but I’ll say it again: never, ever have mirrors facing your bed or placed anywhere where you can see your reflection while lounging.

Mirror energy is much too active for a bedroom. And for you interior design geeks-- you already know that mirrors make a room feel larger. Bedrooms should feel snug for snoozing and seducing, and the last thing you need is a mirror canceling out the intimate and cozy factor of your space.

Also, it could be a bit freakish to wake up in the middle of the night and come face to face with a strange body moving in the darkness, even if it’s you!

5.  The One Place Your Electronics And Exercise Equipment Don’t Love You Back

Ditch the iPad and the treadmill. Or the cell phone and the elliptical. Or the laptop and the free weights. Don’t rid yourself of them completely, just use them in a different part of the house! The most peaceful bedrooms are without televisions or other electronic devices or exercise equipment.

Fitness equipment reminds us of vigor and exertion. And electronics distract us from whoever we’re lucky enough to have in our bed. Even if you’re sleeping solo, dozing around artificial light can curb your production of melatonin, a hormone with beaucoup health benefits.

6. Round It Out

For bedroom furniture, it's best to go for styles with rounded edges. Sharp edged objects carry too much harsh, direct energy. Also, for balance, make sure your bed is easily accessible from both sides. If you’re in a relationship, this can promote a sense of equality between you and your partner.

To further harmonize the energy, use identical nightstands on either side of your bed or, if you’re one of those people who thinks that’s too “matchy”, use two different objects with the same visual weight.

7. What You See Is What You Will (Or Won’t) Get

All objects and images in the bedroom should support your objectives for the space, (read: romance or relaxation), and should be things that you absolutely love. Want a beautiful face on the pillow next to yours? Use art that signals pairs and couples to strengthen the romantic energy.

Warning: if you enjoy decorating with family photos, go crazy in any room except the bedroom. It might be challenging to get it on with an 8x10 of Aunt Gayle staring at you from your dresser!

8. Color is King

Loud, bold, statement making colors are always exciting, but they're much too much buzz for the room where you're trying to relax. Overall, the best bedroom colors are earth colors and neutrals, (tan, beige, gray), or soft and muted non-neutrals like calming blues or pale greens. For feminine and romantic energy, think shades of pink.

With these must-have tips you’re now ready to enjoy your freshly feng shui’d bedroom, along with all the great romping and resting activities that come with it. Just be sure to set that alarm because trust me, you’ll need it with how good you’re about to have it.