F5: What Tools Yuwen Peng Uses for a Work/Life Balance + More
Yuwen Peng’s 25 years of architectural experience in hospitality, restaurant, retail, and entertainment design have contributed to the development of projects around the globe. Working out of CallisonRTKL’s Los Angeles office, her human-centric approach to a vast array of social spaces has resulted in several cross-sector innovations and a long list of noteable 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 works towards finding solutions that keep restaurants profitable, blur the lines between restaurants and retail, and create spaces where people feel like they belong. In the built environment, she’s involved in sustainable and community-building approaches to design. According to Yuwen, the more we cross boundaries to ask questions and learn from each other, the more innovation happens.
Today, Yuwen Peng is joining us for Friday Five!
Making art is about switching to play mode and not being afraid of making mistakes; I love drawing outside the lines and creating messy textures. It is freeing and liberating. Looking at art always reminds me not to take life so seriously, and that it’s okay to make mistakes. Pictured is my own collage made with scrap magazine pages and crayons over pizza box cardboard. Without anything specific in mind, simply having fun and using what’s around me to explore space, form, texture, and draw outside of the lines. The process is freeing, allowing me to follow my mind at the moment and the primal satisfaction of connecting my mind to hands.
The faster my life, the harder I try to slow down and get back to 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 is like a mental detox to give my mind a mini vacation. Once I ring the gong, it transforms my mind from reactive self to a pause capsule. Every now and then I will reach the bliss of my inner strength. And the outcome is always a more clear new solution or untapped perspective.
I love the feeling of bowing down to the earth and the state of flow. Nothing is better than a good sweat to help me sleep, think, move, and reset. As a child, my mom took me to yoga with her, but I lost the practice growing up. I got back to it after graduating college; it’s been a rewarding 20+ years. Yoga has given me a reason for a better work/life balance. It requires me to be more efficient at work and finish on time to get to a class, and it will often lead to family dinner time. There are so many fringe benefits of yoga beyond a good exercise, like spiritual connection, deeper understanding of my own body, and a good night’s sleep! I try to practice 2-3 times a week.
4. Off-Road Desert
There is a saying in the outdoors community, “bad roads lead to good tourists, and good roads lead to bad tourists.” When I venture out off the beaten path, I can see how the vastness of the desert contrasts so much with our smallness as human beings. It creates a pure connection between humans versus 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 wild with no reception. There is an immediate escape from everyday to a new reality. There is only the sound of nature and the rhythm of life. When you can drive and feel every bump of the road gently, you feel like you’re part of earth. It’s the greatest reset for me.
Growing up in my family’s department store in Taiwan, I was raised by a village of friends and neighbors. There was a sense that everyone had each other’s back, regardless of who we were. I learned a lot about respecting different points of view and running a family-owned business. Since I moved to the U.S., I have continued the community mindset by hosting regular dinner parties at my house, where my family, friends, and neighbors prepare meals together from scratch. The process of slow cooking, appreciation of good food, and great companionship is my definition of a good life. A few of our closest friends are from different countries and we travel to different places. We often cook a cuisine to celebrate the places we’ve recently visited. Pictured is a meal from a Mexican friend who grew up in Texas. She played the role of her grandma, directing us as a family assembly line of salsa-making, meat-grilling, tortilla-heating to make TexMex chicken and bean soup.