Kim Kneipp is down to earth. In each of her projects, the stylist and interior designer performs what she refers to as “design acupuncture,” the idea that the key elements we need to maintain beauty and balance in our homes—and ourselves—are right in front of us, but simply need rearranging.
It’s no surprise, then, that when got in touch to learn about what she’s giving this year, she pointed to five traditional elements—fire, earth, metal, water, and wood—and two core needs—air and cloth—as ways to spread love, joy, and balance this holiday season.
“The fire element expresses itself as joy and manifests within us as love, laughter, and enthusiasm. It gives meaning to our relationships with others and allows us to express ourselves fully. Beautifully scented incense cleanses the air, offering a new perspective.”
“Earth represents patience, stability, strength, health, grounding, and the centering of energies. It promotes peace, fertility, money, success in business, stability, warmth, comfort, and physical strength. This beauty is from Australian ceramicist Nicolette Johnson’s ongoing collection, Symbol Vases.”
“Metal gives us a capacity to look at what lies beyond ourselves, and the power to let go. When I was young, I had a whimsical wish list of what I decided would be markers of becoming a ‘grown-up.’ High on this list was having a kitchen filled with copper pots and a dining table large enough to seat many people. (Soft toilet paper was also on the list.)”
“The wisdom of water is to flow. Water moves effortlessly and takes the exact form of whatever contains it. A balanced water element is able to be still and quiet and to move smoothly through the season with strength, courage, and willpower. I spent nine years overseeing the design direction at Peninsula Hot Springs; in the relentless lockdowns of this year, I think we all need time, in nature, soaking in geothermal water.”
“The wood element is one that seeks ways to grow and expand. Wood heralds the beginning of life, springtime and buds, and sensuality and fecundity. Makiko Ryujin is an Australian artist who draws on her Japanese heritage. Her works are informed by the ceremony of burning sacred ornamental vessels, a ritual she observed as a child.”
“In Chinese medicine, Qi, or ‘vital air,’ is the metabolism of oxygen in the body, and the movement of oxygenated blood through the vascular system. This glass vessels creates oxygenation by adding air to wine—another vital lifeblood.”
“Cloth creates narratives between culture, age, status, gender, and race, allowing us to feel woven into the greater tapestry of life. The Kuba people of central Congo are highly regarded for their raffia work, which they perform using single-heddle looms. Panels are individually woven and decorated using different techniques— embroidery, appliqué patchwork, drawn-thread work with cowrie shells and bobbles—and then sewn together to form one longer piece of cloth that is always naturally dyed and hemmed. They make for beautiful wall hangings and table runners.”