A Weekend With Zipeng Zhu. Illustration by Anna Rupprecht.

“Weekend With” is a new series that explores the world of design through the eyes of a designer on their days off. Our first installment was with designer and critic Steve Heller. This week, we have designer Zipeng Zhu, founder of DAZZLE. 

Weekends don’t mean much to me. When I was freelancing, I would often work during the weekend, and now, after I started running my own studio 24/7, my days have became even more hazy. But that doesn’t stop me from occasionally join the crowd, indulging myself with some fun weekend activities.

My Saturday usually starts with a negotiation between me and waking up. Morning is not my friend, so it’s often a battle involving snooze and my bed. This week, once we reached a truce, I reluctantly got up and made myself a cup of hot lemon water with honey to get my body going. (It’s not only delicious, but also helps acne breakouts. #ProTip)

I try to make work from my daily life. Anything can be a sparkle of idea, so living life outside of design is very important to me. I’m not great at motivating myself to be inspired, though, so luckily I have a group of wonderful friends to keep me in check. My dear friend Carly Ayres is my go-to guide for arts and culture. Just when I was about to text her, a message popped up from Ms. Ayres herself: “Art walking in the morning with friends if you want to join.” With a simple reply of, “On my way!” I hopped on the L train and headed straight to Chelsea.

“Living life outside of design is very important to me.”

I arrived shortly thereafter at our go-to coffee spot, Blue Bottle, near the Chelsea Market. With a cup of New Orleans in hand and the good company of Carly and our friends Sebastian and Jonas, we kicked off our gallery hopping. Petzel on West 18th is usually our first stop. It’s now showing expressive paintings by artist Charline von Heyl, one of which magically matched my outfit of the day.  

After Petzel we walked into Gagosian on West 21st, and were confronted by nine dancing office chairs. This is not a figure of speech—the artist Urs Fischer, along with choreographer Madeline Hollander, created a ballet of sherbet-colored office chairs that twirl and glide across the concrete gallery floor. Occasionally, they perform together, or interact with us, sniffing out the visitors and approaching us with initial hesitancy, and then with confident grace. Their movements were controlled by cameras and heat sensors on the ceiling. The piece is called “Play.”

After the musical chairs, literally, we headed over to Joshua Liner Gallery for Felipe Pantone’s solo show. The walls were filled with his colorful signature gradient. When we stepped closer, we realized they were movable installations—the gradient shifts when you move the pieces, generating new color and new gradients.

Our last stop was Martine Gutierrez’s Indigenous Woman show at Ryan Lee Gallery. The show is dedicated to Mayan Indian heritage. Gutierrez explores her own self-image through a parody fashion magazines filled with provocative editorials and fake ads, and some of the more powerful images were blown up and hung on the walls.

A Weekend With Zipeng Zhu: At Urs Fischer.

Gutierrez’s stunning images put a grand finale to our Chelsea art walk. With all the walking we did, all I wanted to do was melt into a puddle of mess on my way-too-comfortable couch and watch one after another Tasty food videos while eating instant ramen noodles. So let’s cut to Sunday before I reveal even more embarrassing personal details.

With some much-needed rest and another cup of hot lemon honey water, my Sunday officially began. I did all the walking on Saturday that I needed to do for one weekend, so Sunday was chill and relaxing.

One thing I love about living in Williamsburg is BAGEL! The only thing I love more than bagel is bagel in the park. With a classic lox sandwich in hand and Ariana Grande in my ear, I slowly yet groovily made my way to Domino Park.

This brand new waterfront park has taken the neighborhood to a whole new level. I never tire of the view of the Manhattan skyline, and the never ending waves of East River made my breakfast time fly by with a blink of my eye. To avoid getting attacked by the wet n’ wild children running around the rainbow water fountain, I excused myself from the park and turned my Sunday agenda into pure shopping.

“I honestly think shopping is a great way to learn design.” 

The first stop was Beam, a lovely boutique furniture store filled with beautiful and curious things you don’t need but you can’t stop buying. Ah, the curse of being a designer. I’m a total Maurizio Cattelan fanboy and one of his vibrant pasta print Toiletpaper plates was on sale. Who doesn’t love a good deal on a plate?!

Next stop was Mociun, one of the most beautiful and interesting stores in Williamsburg. It’s slightly below street level, so when you’re walking down into the space, everything unveils itself in front of you—including the infamous “cup wall.” Along the dome shaped-wall, each gradient shelf is filled with uniquely crafted ceramic cups. Even though I still can’t afford these stunning beauties, but it never hurts to look and be inspired.

Growing up in China, Muji was a big part of my life. Now, with one in the neighborhood, it has made my life so much more convenient. Everyone knows Muji’s stationery and notebooks, but I don’t think y’all know that it also has super awesome snacks. My absolute favorite is the Strawberry Jam Pie, a cookie-sized pastry filled with sweet and fruity jam. I can never eat just one, so I loaded my basket with those and with some fried rice crackers.

A Weekend With Zipeng Zhu: Shopping at Åland.

Being a shopaholic, I have to at least try to exercise self-control. But I completely lost my mind after I got to Åland. This Korean fashion retailer has found it’s new home in the heart of Williamsburg. Personally, I love the interior design of the store—everything is white, but all the wardrobes are colorful steel. It not only grabs your attention, but also frames the store in a very graphic way.

I’m not saying this to justify my outrageous spending habits, but I honestly think shopping is a great way to learn design. Before you even walk into the store, there’s usually a fascinating window display that draws your attention and lures you in. Once you step foot inside, the interior design not only provides a branded atmosphere, but also guides you toward the product in a way that, if done right, is barely detectible. Every design element of the space serves to enhance the product, so that when you finally get to it, you reach for your wallet. In Åland, it worked on me.

With shopping bags filled with excellent goodies and my phone loaded with paintings and sculpture, I’ve truly outdone myself this weekend. All that’s missing is a drink in my hand. I’m going to get a glass of negroni; until next time, cheers!