F5: Designer Bo Zhang’s City Walks, Street Workouts + More

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Artist and designer Bo Zhang founded Desz Office creative studio, which mixes art, design, material, and communication, in 2019. To him, it’s important the work is a balance of art and design that expresses the relationship between people and space while stimulating the imagination with contemporary art and design. He believes the work should have a soul that can interact both visually and spiritually for people, granting them inspiration and yearning through sentimentality.

For Bo, there were two stages that led him to the world of design. While considering a possible career road map, he really couldn’t distinguish the difference between product design, industrial design, and furniture design. He eventually chose to study product design in Italy for its clear definition – being that every product has form, function, and the charm of art. Bo gradually fell in love with home objects that are common, but full of artistic sense.

Bo Zhang

After graduating in Industrial Design at Scuola Politecnica di Design in Milan, Italy, and Savannah College of Art and Design in the United States, where he obtained a Master of Fine Arts, Bo worked for a year at Sebastian Errazuriz’ studio in Brooklyn. The studio’s philosophy blurs the lines between art and design, and is full of interaction and reflection. This is the kind of thinking that can give the public a new understanding of themselves and society, giving the young designer the realization that design has more meaning than previously believed.

Bo also spends time promoting traditional Asian and Chinese handicrafts that are being slowly forgotten after thousands of years in existence in the age of technology. He works with foundations and fashion brands to promote these skills with modern design to bring new artworks to market. While preserving the culture and skills are important, the profits undeniably improve the lives of poor artisans. Having already exhibited and promoted in China, the UK, and France, next year a new theme with be shown and sold in New York and Milan.

Design is still defined in broad strokes for Bo. When younger, he studied calligraphy because he had poor handwriting, and keeps up with the practice for half an hour every week or two. He appreciates that it exercises patience, and thinks he may one day venture into becoming a calligraphy artist – every piece is art. During college, Bo became obsessed with woodworking, especially traditional wood processing technology. Furniture design is another area he can see himself experimenting in more seriously in the future. The world is his design oyster.

Today, we’re happy to have Bo Zhang join us for Friday Five!

Photo: Emina, tosummer, Fragrance 2023

1. Home Fragrance

I used to work as a product manager for a home fragrance brand, and since then I’ve been very interested in home fragrances. I have developed several fragrances, such as bamboo’s taste and humulus’ taste. They are so different and memorable. Fragrance products are one of the few products that require people to use vision, smell, touch, and other feelings to understand. It is interesting to watch each individual choose their favorite fragrance, and most of the choices come from their spiritual and inner thoughts. Like the public understanding of art and design.

Photo: Yang Zhang

2. City Walk + HUTONG

Beijing is a diverse city, with both historical sites and modern architecture. I really enjoy walking between them. There, the old streets are called “hutong.” A small shop or an old building in the HUTONG conveys the nature and quiet that people really want in modern cities. There is also a lot of history and culture to be found in the HUTONG, people will think about the past and the future.

Photo: Wushiguo Keep

3. Street Workout

It’s an interesting sport training. Different from traditional fitness. Street workout doesn’t require a gym or other professional equipment, people can train at any venue. The reason why I like street workout is that the whole training is a process of constantly challenging yourself, and every skill which you train for can be very cool to show. When you train, you become the center of attention. For example, Muscle-up, Human Flag, Front lever.

Photo: Issey Miyake

4. O Watch

Tokujin Yoshioka’s O Watch for Issey Miyake. The designs of this Japanese designer are excellent. My wife knew nothing about design at first, however, when she saw the photos of the O watch she liked the natural, exquisite, fashionable, and aesthetic design very much. That year, I gave her the O watch as her birthday gift. The watch led her to become fascinated with design and art. As a photographer, she often helps me to shoot his new works – sometimes I think that the O watch is a key.

Photo: Yang Zhang

5. Antique Market

I really enjoy visiting antique markets. They are full of old things that have a sense of time, but can give me new ideas. Some of the old objects bring back wonderful memories (such as those from my childhood) and some are antiques that reflect tradition and culture (many of them are hundreds of years old). Listening to the owner introduce the history of the object is also a good opportunity to learn about the culture.



Work by Bo Zhang + Desz:

Brilliant Self \ The project uses mirrors to reveal the patterned reverse side of the metal plate. Many mirrors and white metal plates coated in pigment behind yet plates reveal several colors at once. They were blended and mixed with one another like gas or fluids. The mirrored background lends an energy and brightness to these color tones. \ Photo: Yang Zhang

Lightness \ The Lightness collection is inspired by an accidental scene. When light is projected into the space which is layered, the imagination begins. The vases feature gradations of colors that optically change depending on the light hitting them, as if the colors are floating. \ Photo: Yang Zhang

Stretch Color \ Stretch Color is a set of local disappearing vases. The three-sizes of vases show the strength and change of the color after being stretched. Through the shape of the curve and the gradient of the color, the vases display a sense of visual stretch. The disappearance part has made the work a fantasy uncertainty.\ Photo: Yang Zhang

Moon Lamp \ In general, paper is made by passing fine screens through a bath of plant pulp and water to collect the pulp, then by drying the screens and peeling off the new paper sheets. Rather than pasting sheets of paper together to create forms, Zhang tried to improve the process to create beautiful, seamless, frameless forms. He made the paper lamp surface and created the irregular shadows that bring out the special characteristics of paper. \ Photo: Bo Zhang

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