• New York Modern with Shengning Zhang

    Your UO Home: We're touring amazing apartments around the country to see how UO Home works in your home. First stop: Park Slope, Brooklyn, where furniture designer Shengning Zhang finds the balance between comfortable and modern.

    Photography by Sean Murray

    Hi There! Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
    I design and hand make furniture out of my shop in Redhook, Brooklyn. I have a background in architecture, and have channeled that into exploring ways of using solid, domestic, hardwood to make adaptable designs that promote long term use through hardware-less assembly,  natural finishes, and hand carved details. 

    How long have you lived in NY?  
    I’ve been in the city for over 8 years and have been in my current home for most of that time. 
    Above: Chamberlin Recycled Leather Sofa

    What are some of your favorite things about your neighborhood? 
    Park Slope is nice. It’s a low key neighborhood with a lot of cultural diversity. There are a lot of locally owned shops and cafes that I have come to depend on. The neighborhood is steps away from Prospect Park and Greenwood cemetery, and also the bars and restaurants in the Gowanus. 

    Tell us more about your apartment + what drew you to it? 
    My railroad unit is located on a corner lot, and makes up for it’s narrowness with the vast amount of light that comes in on three sides. What initially drew me to it were the historic details like the tin ceiling and the high windows, but I’ve grown to love the eccentric bits such as the walled over fireplace and skylight and seemingly random patches of tile work that speak to the long history of the building’s use. 
    Above: NYC Neon Sign 

    How would you describe your design aesthetic? 
    I wanted my apartment to feel as comfortable as possible. I kept the color and materials simple to make the small size seem as open as possible: off white upholstery, white walls, light wood, and lots of plants. The unit didn’t come with much storage, so every intervention had to be functional, from the wall shelves I built to the drafting lamps in each room, down to my custom dining table with a pop-up trivet and hidden storage. 

    You stay so organized in your apartment – any tips + tricks for storage solutions?
    I have found it helpful to keep everything in open storage. This way I have a visual reference of the objects and space that is around me, and it reinforces a habit of putting things back when they are out of place. 
    Above: Mura Bench
    Above: Howell Modern Print Arm Chair
    Any pieces you cannot live without? 
    Much of the dinnerware was made by a friend and collaborator of mine, MAT Ceramics. They are beautiful pieces that have a personal history behind them and I would have a hard time parting with them. My wall shelves and table are prototypes of designs that have evolved into furniture pieces that I make in my studio. They’re take-down and adaptable, so I wouldn’t want to leave them behind either. 

    Where do you spend the most time in your apartment? 
    The light is constantly changing throughout the day, so I have a routine for following the light on the days that I work from home. I usually circulate from my desk to the couch to the dining table and back onto the floor in my bedroom. That keeps me moving throughout the day. 

    Above: Linen Blend Duvet Cover
    Above: Tufted Pom Rug

    How do you set the tone in your home?
    I have a habit of collecting found objects I find interesting that I use as pieces to meditate on. On weekends, I like to set the mood by making tea, putting on cedar incense, and water my plants. That helps to restore my focus and concentration. 

    Lastly, what would your dream home look like? 
    I’ve really grown into my home, and have a good amount of emotional attachment to it. If I could lift it as a whole to a place with a more direct connection to nature, I would….Up style!

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