What tools Yuwen Peng uses for work/life balance and more

Yuwen Peng 25 years of architectural experience in hospitality, catering, retail and entertainment design has contributed to the development of projects around the world. Working out of CallisonRTKL’s Los Angeles office, his human-centric approach to a wide range of social spaces has resulted in several cross-industry innovations and a long list of notable clients – Wolfgang Puck Restaurants, W Hotels, Lucky Strike Lanes, 7-Eleven Lab, McDonald’s and Starbuck’s Prototypes to name a few. Passionate about the food and beverage industry, Yuwen strives to find solutions that keep restaurants profitable, blur the lines between restaurants and retail, and create spaces where people feel at home. . In the built environment, she is involved in sustainable and community design approaches. According to Yuwen, the more we cross boundaries to ask questions and learn from each other, the more innovation happens.

Today, Yuwen Peng joins us for friday five!

Photo: Yuwen Peng

warm colors abstract collage

Photo: Yuwen Peng

1. Arts

Making art is about going into play mode and not being afraid to make mistakes; I love drawing outside the lines and creating messy textures. It is liberating and liberating. Looking at art always reminds me not to take life too seriously and that it’s okay to make mistakes. Pictured is my own collage made with magazine pages and colored pencils on pizza box cardboard. Without anything specific in mind, just having fun and using my surroundings to explore space, shape, texture and drawing outside the lines. The process is liberating, allowing me to follow my mind in the moment and the overwhelming satisfaction of connecting my mind to the hands.

meditation area with singing bowl

Photo: Yuwen Peng

2. Meditation

The faster my life gets, the more I try to slow down and find a place of calm and peace. To combat the hectic days, about five years ago I started practicing meditation. I love playing the Tibetan singing bowl (pictured) during meditation. It’s like a mental detox to give my mind a mini vacation. Once I ring the gong, it turns my mind from reactive self into a pause capsule. From time to time, I will reach the happiness of my inner strength. And the result is always a new, clearer solution or an untapped perspective.

two people doing acrobatic yoga in a studio

Photo: Yuwen Peng


I love the feeling of bowing to the earth and the state of flux. Nothing better than a good sweat to help me sleep, think, move and reset myself. As a child, my mother took me to yoga with her, but I lost the practice growing up. I got back into it after graduating from college; it’s been more than 20 rewarding years. Yoga gave me a reason for a better work/life balance. It forces me to be more efficient at work and finish on time for class, and it will often lead to dinner time with the family. There are so many social benefits of yoga beyond good exercise, like a spiritual connection, a deeper understanding of my own body, and a good night’s sleep! I try to practice 2-3 times a week.

landscape view of the rising or setting sun with two people watching from the hood of a Jeep

Photo: Yuwen Peng

4. Off-road desert

There’s a saying in the outdoor community, “bad roads lead to good tourists, and good roads lead to bad tourists.” When I venture off the beaten path, I see how the vastness of the desert contrasts so much with our smallness as human beings. It creates a pure connection between humans and nature. The bond is very powerful, tender and calm. Pictured is a trip on the Joshua Tree Geology OHV Tour Road where we were forced to go into the wilderness with no reception. There is an immediate escape from the everyday into a new reality. There is only the sound of nature and the rhythm of life. When you can drive and gently feel every bump in the road, you feel like you’re part of the earth. This is the biggest reset for me.

overhead shot of a table full of food with arms outstretched towards different dishes

Photo: Yuwen Peng

5. Community

Growing up in my family’s department store in Taiwan, I was raised by a village of friends and neighbors. There was a feeling that everyone supported each other, no matter who we were. I learned a lot about respecting different points of view and running a family business. Since moving to the United States, I have continued the community spirit by hosting regular dinner parties at my house, where my family, friends and neighbors cook meals together from scratch. The slow cooking process, the appreciation of good food and good company is my definition of a good life. Some of our closest friends come from different countries and we travel to different places. We often cook cuisine to celebrate the places we have recently visited. Pictured is a meal from a Mexican friend who grew up in Texas. She played her grandmother, running us like a family assembly line of making salsa, grilling meat, heating tortillas to make TexMex chicken and bean soup.

Artwork by Yuwen Peng:

outdoor area with modernist buildings and a large group of people walking

Dongpo Kitchen is a China-wide catering organization that seeks to integrate its traditional Sichuan cuisine into the North American food palette. For their Universal Studios City Walk location, Dongpo Kitchen deviates from its usual fine dining atmosphere to create a visually appealing casual dining experience. Dongpo Kitchen, Universal Citywalk, California Photo: Aaron Leitz Photography

interior of a food court with tables, booths and two people sitting in a bar

The recently opened JA Jiaozi Authentic Dumplings restaurant in Irvine, California represents a new chapter for the well-established Chinese brand, which has hundreds of existing locations in China. CallisonRTKL designed a new aesthetic and brand strategy, as well as the interiors of the restaurant to reposition the brand and introduce it to a new market. Jia, which means house, inspired the design. The main dining room is open, while the bar allows diners to watch their food being prepared through a large picture window. The material palette is dominated by earth tones: concrete floors and reclaimed oak reinforce the natural theme. A feature wall made of concrete tiles with hand-carved ceramic dumplings visually anchors the back of the space, making an artistic statement on the culinary offerings. JA Hiaozi, Irvine, CA Photo: Lawrence Anderson Photography

The historic Uline Arena, a sprawling brick masonry structure with a concrete barrel vault roof in Washington, DC, has been transformed into a mixed-use development space with REI as its first tenant. CallisonRTKL collaborated with REI to create a store design suited to the space, with original arena seating incorporated into a wall installation. Wood panels used to cover the ice hockey rink during basketball games finish the interior east wall. Vintage posters honoring musicians and bands from DC’s go-go, punk and bluegrass scenes create an art exhibit based on the arena’s history. Indoor and outdoor event spaces and an integrated catering service help create a sense of community and brand connection. REI, Washington, DC Photo: CRTKL/David Whitcomb

vertical image of modern white commercial space interior with many levels and geometric glass ceiling

Shanghai’s Hongqiau Transportation Hub, covering an area of ​​26 square kilometers, is the world’s largest transit hub. Within it is CallisonRTKL’s design for The Hub, an urban oasis providing an escape from the eight forms of public transport that transfer up to 1.1 million passengers daily. The Hub caters to guests looking for time and space to get away and relax. Green spaces connect one functional area to another, helping to facilitate navigation. Clean, contemporary interiors are complemented by an abundance of natural finishes and interior landscaping. A series of overlapping openings and bridges connect each of the project’s eight levels to create geometric patterns that move and alter space as it is experienced vertically. Mini retail districts, market-style food and beverage, and a VIP lounge with wine bars and stunning views enhance the consumer experience. Unique amenities, such as a check-in kiosk that allows passengers to directly check in their baggage rather than having to go to the terminal, create synergy between spaces and increase efficiency. The hub was designed to achieve LEED Silver certification. The Hub, Shanghai Hongqiao Airport Photo: CRTKL: Yihuai Hu

Kelly Beall is an editor at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based graphic designer and writer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember and enjoys sharing her discoveries with others. When she’s not distracted by great art and design, she can be found messing around in the kitchen, consuming as much information as she can, or on the couch with her three pets. Find her @designcrush on social media.

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