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Design Discussions with CallisonRTKL’s Peri Peng

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Peri Peng of CallisonRTKL Chats With Us About the Mixing of Nature + City Life and Her Terrarium Creations

We continue our Design Discussions with designers who attended FWD, a place where we explore cultural trends and design influencers in an inspirational setting. Between design lectures, trend forecasting sessions and art excursions, attendees are immersed in inspiration and creativity. Our Design Discussions keep the conversations going, sharing design aspirations and what personally inspires these visionaries.

What inspires you personally and professionally? 

I am influenced by the juxtaposition between nature and city life. We are in the business of creating a manmade nature. Finding a balance is the key. I am drawn to designs embracing it rather than fighting it — let gravity do its work. I am inspired by creative and artistic people and their works. 

Credit: Highlights from IMM Cologne by Ewald Schillig

Credit: House in Moriyama, Aichi, Japan by Suppose Design

I also make things myself, occasionally, such as this leather bag and necklace. When ideas come to mind,  follow the flow.

Photo Courtesy of Peri Peng

Photo Courtesy of Peri Peng

How do you stay current on cultural trends that affect design?

I believe trends always have roots from the past and across industries. Most of the time, the ideas are the same, just expressed differently. I am very fortunate to work with a group of extremely inspiring people. So, to stay informed, I look to them and other designs, like materials, furniture, fashion, etc.

Credit: Gracia Dark Knight Jacket

Credit: JUNGIBLE for the Dead Words Project by Baimu Studio

What’s next for the future of the design industry? 

The lines between project types are becoming blurred. Hospitals want to have more of a hospitality feel, while corporate offices are becoming places like home. On the other hand, ever-evolving technologies open new doors to new possibilities. This is very exciting! This means a wider space for creativity and innovation for architects and designers.

What one building or interior space do you wish you designed?

The first thing that comes to mind is Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright. I admire the unique thinking behind the unconventional treatment of the given – make the falls part of the design rather than the view. 

Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright

A more recent example would be Revival Food Hall in The National building at Clark and Adams in Chicago. The flooring treatment embraced existing tiles, concrete and terrazzo, combined with a cornucopia of raw and rustic finishes and fixtures, creating a uniquely original and modern look for the space.

Revival Food Hall; Jennifer Catherine Photography 2016

What are your most favorite things on your desk?

I would say…what I call my organized (maybe just to me!) chaos. It’s a collection (pile?) of souvenirs from my own and my colleagues’ travels, material samples and my terrariums.

Photo Courtesy of Peri Peng

Photo Courtesy of Peri Peng

Photo Courtesy of Peri Peng


Peri Peng, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, CallisonRTKL

Peri Peng is a project manager at CallisonRTKL’s Chicago office. She is a licensed architect and a LEED AP, and has more than 13 years of design experience across a variety of types of projects. Embracing her technical training, detailed eyes and a wide understanding of materials and finishes, Peri has focused on interior architecture more than half of her career. Her current projects include new and revitalized building environments in shopping centers, hotels and workplaces across the United States and throughout the world. In her spare time, Peri enjoys leather crafting and making as many terrariums as she has room for.

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