What does Buddhist architecture, Islamic architecture, Notre Dame and Mies Van der Rohe’s Farnsworth all have in common?

golden-ratio of a RoseWhat does Buddhist Architecture, Islamic Architecture, Notre Dame, and Mies Van der Rohr’s Faarnsworth house all have in common?   Sacred Geometry!

Sacred Geometry, as architect Robert Armon  has described to reporter Erika Christiansen, ASID, is based on the Golden Rule, that “map” of divine proportions which simultaneously reflect the beauty of the human body’s proportions, the proportions of the nautilus shell, and everything else in  the natural universe. Studies have found that humans tend to feel more at ease and more energized whey viewing and experiencing structures with sacred proportions.

If this is so, then =sacred proportions can increase individual and employee emotional wellbeing—-which can cascade into positive effecdts for physical well being, and on to employee productivity. Compare this with similar outcomes of many environmental design practives, such as using natural light and no volatile organic compounds, and we can see that sacred geometry may be as practical as “green”/environmental design.

Green/environmental design is focsed on life-style, comfort, health, safety, welfare and respect fot the Earth. The same with the sacred arts, the ultimate goal being the metaphysical state, or enlightenment, rather than the basic physical realm. Change the thinking and the physical will follow.

Sharon Breay, A.S.I.D., Allied NSA, principal of Breay Design Associates is not only a popular, awarded designer with degrees in design from University of Michigan, but is also a speaker, instructor, mentor, and author on design and design issues. Contact her by clicking the contact button on the left of these pages. She often asks clietns, when discussing their spaces, “Does the Shoe….FIT “you” …..like your favorite shoes do? If not, then some adjustments are necessary.

Exterior Task Lighting

Courtesty of OutdoorLighting Perspectives

Courtesty of OutdoorLighting Perspectives

Hi again!  This blog will continue discussing exterior lighting, focusing on the task lighting of our entries. In review, our yards need three layers of lighting:

1)      Ambient, low level general impression lighting

2)      Task lighting for where we perform tasks

3)      Accent lighting for areas of interest (the brightest area of lighting)

You may have a walk leading up to some steps at your entry. Perhaps a fixture with lights about eye level will be enough for both walkway and steps. The steps will need brighter lighting than the walk so no one trips on them. Therefore, put the light close to the steps, allowing the waning light from the fixture to glow down the walk. If you have a longer walk, you may need a lower, small auxiliary light further down the walk, being careful not to create monotony with too many of the same fixtures.

The steps consist of treads we walk on, and risers (at the back of the tread ) that take the treads to the next level. If we light the steps from below or with lighting that illuminates both tread and riser equally, we have a safety hazard. The user can be easily confused seeing both treads and risers as “one” plane because of the equal lighting on both, instead of 1 horizontal plane (tread) and one vertical plane (riser).But if we light the steps from above, the treads are lit and the risers are in shadow. This is a much safer method of lighting steps.

Now visualize the door. Consider putting a light right above the door or at the side of it. Having one light centered in a porch ceiling will give overall light, but you will be in your own shadow trying to unlock a door. If you have this situation, consider adding task lighting over the door or at it’s side.

Next blog, let’s discuss discuss designing for happiness.

See you then!—Sharon Breay


Welcome to DOES THE SHOE……FIT?  blog! Let’s share a discussion about all the areas of interior and exterior home design and decoration. On the 15th and 30th of each month, we’ll share thoughts, answer questions, and perhaps discuss the work of a famous designer as inspiration.

You may want solid information to solve a problem. You realize the “trends” seldom relate to your personal lives and budgets. You can “see through” the entertaining, staged television shows on design. You know that pretty pictures don’t answer your questions. For these reasons I became a designer and professional speaker on design. Audiences have gone wild with my informative workshops; you may enjoy the same interchange here.

This blog is fashioned after my speaking presentations by the same name, “Does the Shoe….FIT?” Your homes ought to fit your personal ways of living, your style, and your home’s architecture, the way a favorite shoe fits. Would you think of wearing steel toed construction shoes with a formal gown? Would you try to get into a shoe 4 sizes too small? The shoe has to fit the activity in order to perform well. So too, must your homes, in order to give you peace, functionality, beauty, and a place that works well for the way you entertain.

Here’s an example of what I mean: I live in a mountain canyon in Colorado. Up here, you wouldn’t wear spike high-heeled shoes when mountain climbing—even though some advertising touts a particular high-heeled shoe as the “shoe of the year.” Even though you’ve seen a gorgeous movie star wear this shoe for such feats as walking through the desert for a week, climbing up the mast of a sailing ship, and running away from a hungry lion! The fact remains, the shoe isn’t appropriate for mountain climbing! Just as the right shoe fits your activity and personality, so too your homes must fit. You deserve to have them fit your lifestyle, personality, and the architecture that you live in….not vice versa.

I am not a professional writer, and may not even have all the answers! But with decades of design experiences, awards, and recognitions behind me, I intend to give you a new slant or viewpoint to deal with the areas you live and work in. Feel free to send me your comments and topic suggestions.

I look forward to meeting again December 30th, or shortly thereafter!

Sharon Breay, ASID