5 Feng Shui Tips From TikTok’s Resident Expert


When you think of TikTok, the word chaos probably comes to mind—with its manic dance videos, screaming teens, and argumentative live streams. On the contrary, the app doesn’t necessarily evoke thoughts of serenity or productivity, but this is changing: Over the past year, a handful of creators have been turning their attention toward improving the lives of those around them by doling out friendly and digestible advice in the short-video format.

One creator in particular is Cliff Tan, or @dearmodern, as he’s known on social. The London architect is taking the interior design space by storm with his clever, bite-sized videos about the Chinese practice of feng shui, a set of principles originating from ancient China that he describes as “applying common sense and instinct when you plan your spaces or build a home.”

According to Cliff, feng shui is based upon the idea that your future path depends on luck, your efforts and mind state, or the natural and built environment, and that the practice of it is about optimizing your environment for the different parts of your life. This is accomplished through critical thinking around the ways in which the variables of your home interact and the different energies they bring to a space.

Cliff’s videos provide simple, real-life advice around these practices, often in response to queries sent in by his curious audience about how to troubleshoot the problematic floor plans of their homes. For him, the longstanding tenets of feng shui are a practical tool for improving quality of life—“a set of theories to guide you to build something in the best possible way,” he says. His advice is not limited to large, expansive floor plans or luxury apartments. He is just as likely to help a student with their dorm room as he is a family with their suburban estate.

This open-minded attitude and down-to-earth approach has garnered him a large following—1.5 million on TikTok in fact—and a book deal with Bloomsbury to bring Feng Shui Modern to the world this February. The book elaborates on the concepts he explores on TikTok, delving into the details of implementing the practice. Cliff encourages his readers to get into it, to “take a moment to really understand the principles.” The book further explores the concept of feng shui more extensively, giving some historical context and conceptual framing.

As a trained architect with more than 15 years of experience, Cliff comes from a place of expertise. He also carries generations of feng shui knowledge with him as his grandfather was a thorough practitioner. But his path to being a TikTok star even took him by surprise. “It’s a total change in my entire life,” he says. “I was a conventional architect, and then I started sharing my knowledge, and it just blew up!”

This popularity led to Cliff offering private consultations for a relatively small fee, where clients can collaborate with him on troubleshooting their specific spatial issues. These sessions often lead to in-depth conversations with the clients, moving beyond the what to the why. For him, this experience illuminates the beauty of everyday design, but also the divide between designers and those who need design outside of a luxury context. “I realized that people need help with their spaces, and that they can appreciate good design,” Cliff says. “There’s this whole world of people out there who have no access to designers and the knowledge that designers have. It’s like we’re in parallel universes.”

For Cliff, feng shui is relevant to every space, but it’s misunderstood. People often make mistakes, mainly by not connecting fully with their practice of feng shui or choosing objects for their space that don’t have a reasoning behind them. “I think feng shui is a bit of an unknown for many people—it’s a bit like horoscopes,” Cliff explains. “Usually when people revert to these things, it’s because they’ve exhausted all answers, and they want more help. Even in China, many people still see feng shui as superstition. But if we trace it right back to the beginning, it’s just about architecture and building things in the most practical way. There’s always a logic behind it. It’s all about the energy, the lighting, where the resources are.”

Below, Cliff outlines the key tenets of the practice that feng shui novices can try at home.

Do: Connect the practice to your own culture

Cliff advises people to practice feng shui in a personal way—to make choices that are relevant to themselves, their culture, and their experiences. For him, cultural sensitivity is all about choosing objects that you fully understand and enjoy so you have a significant connection to the objects in your home. “The best thing to do is to bring in your own culture,” he says.

Don’t: Use objects that have no meaning to you

“In China, they hang these scrolls that are written with Chinese characters and describe lucky things,” Cliff explains. “To those who speak Chinese, they understand it, and it means a good thing, but others don’t understand the characters, and they’re just hanging this thing that is meaningless to them, and therefore it won’t work. The idea of feng shui is to reinforce things that are in your mind.”

Do: Practice being present

“The best way to test and feel these principles is to be acutely aware of your surroundings. When you visit a restaurant or cafe, take a moment and think of where you want to sit, and why, or if you are at the airport waiting for your next flight, ask yourself [the same thing],” Cliff advises. “By analyzing the environment around you and constantly making calculated decisions, you will start to see the environment in a heightened way.”

Don’t: Follow the rules of feng shui just because

“Avoid taking feng shui advice at face value,” Cliff says. “Always ask why and rationalize the logic behind any feng shui recommendation.”

Do: Trust your intuition

“Feng shui is about feeling protected and comfortable in a space or environment; it is more than just looking nice, but feeling right,” he says. “The best way to learn this properly is to put down your book and try for yourself. Feel the spaces around you using those feng shui principles.”

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