Mary Jane Pappas and IKEA both design furniture with long names (Hidden Treasure Chest of Drawers, Grundtal Norrviken), but the similarities stop there. You definitely won’t find Pappas’ chest in a box awaiting hundreds of screws, and you definitely won’t see it in your best friend’s, mom’s, or aunt’s house. No, Pappas set out to create something truly unique: a chest of drawers not only aesthetically pleasing and highly functional, but designed using Feng Shui principles. Mpls.St.Paul Home & Design spoke with Pappas, an award-winning interior designer and president of Pappas Design, about her current exploration into furniture design and her Feng Shui inspiration.
Mpls.St.Paul Home & Design: What inspired you to design the Hidden Treasure Chest of Drawers?
Mary Jane Pappas: Being in this business for 30-some odd years, there are many chests I’ve come across with sizes of drawers that are just so unruly for putting clothes in. This chest responds to human ergonomics and allows the best possible drawer depths to store clothing—not too deep, not too shallow, just right. But the other reason is that I wanted to begin to introduce Feng Shui principles and auspiciousness in furniture to peoples’ homes.
MSP: Why are you interested in Feng Shui and auspiciousness as it relates to home design?
MP: Feng Shui is the understanding of energy and how a physical energy can impact you. When you put an element like a crystal or a mirror [in a room], it helps to change the flow of energy. I thought it’d be nice to do it with something functional, like a chest. Auspiciousness means “beneficial” or “positive.” So, for example, when you find a four-leaf clover, that’s auspicious. It’s lucky. I used an auspicious ruler, the Lu Ban Ruler, to create the sizes of the drawers and the depths of the chest.
MSP: Is this your first time designing furniture?
MP: Yes, it is the first thing I’ve designed. I wanted to make the piece look simple and elegant. This piece has an Asian contemporary feel to it, but it doesn’t look like a Chinese chest. You won’t find these types of drawers in a typical Chinese chest, and none have this idea of transcendental coins.
MSP: Tell us more about the transcendental coins. What is their significance?
MP: The chest has 10 standard drawers, each featuring a square knob with a hidden circular brass back plate, and these are called transcendental coins. I was inspired by my Buddhist Master, the late His Holiness Grandmaster Professor Lin Yun, to incorporate the coins into the chest. The transcendental coins represent the Ching Dynasty, and the significance from that dynasty is wealth. The chest would help promote wealth in your life, depending on where you placed it in your home.
MSP: You said the coins are hidden. Is that where the name of the chest comes from?
MP: Correct. You don’t see the brass back plates, and no one would ever know. But the other thing is that it has a jewelry chest in it. The central drawer opens up to reveal four divided trays. The jewelry drawers are divided into compartments that hold rings, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces.
MSP: Can somebody who doesn’t practice Feng Shui still use this chest in a home?
MP: Yes, for sure. They can still get this chest, and they can use it in the way that they see fit. They certainly don’t have to use it as a Feng Shui adjustment. The size of the chest is customizable, and it can be fabricated in any material you wish. Mine was made from maple, but somebody could request an entire cedar chest. Also, this chest is cinnabar red because that is an auspicious color, but you can have it any color. I’ve also designed a bench, armoire, side tables, and a bed to coordinate with the chest.
Pappas Design, 20 Ardmore Dr., Mpls., 763-377-9870, www.pappasdesign.com