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When it comes to knowing her way around New York’s most popular design-centric spaces, few people know the city as well as Joy Yun. A former fashion influencer in Korea turned-up-and-coming designer in the most coveted design circles in NYC, Yun has worked on projects ranging from creative innovation space designed like a “treehouse” in Japan, to large-scale culture design at Pfizer (#NBD).
Her day gig is with SYPartners – a design consultancy started by a few friends who met at Apple who wanted to create a company to “bring more purpose and positive impact to the world.” Helping with many of their top clients, Yun has quickly become one of the most in-the-know young design talents right now, with a unique point of view and aesthetic that blends fine art, illustration and urban minimalism, with East Asian influences.
Now that she’s adopted New York as her new home, we asked Yun about her favorite places to visit in the city, from cafes to bookstores to dance floors. If you’re a design fan and looking for an itinerary of places to visit in the city, consider this list your starting point.
1. WHERE TO SHOP
Nalatanalata – This is a Japanese home goods store in the East Village that’s focused on the stories and people behind their products. Think artisanal, unique, high-end goodness.
Mast Books – One of the best design-oriented bookstores in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Sometimes I come here just to browse—and end up spending hours. You won’t regret it (their Instagram is pretty good too).
Totokaelo – Even if you don’t buy anything in this store, it’s worth going just to check out their displays. This place is the epitome of eclectic New York cool—from fashion to home goods. They represent artists and designers who have an independent and thoughtful sense of beauty too.
Amie Leon Dore – Clean, simple, and stylish menswear —all my guy friends shop here. And those who don’t, die to shop here. Think modern, minimalist street style.
2. WHERE TO EAT
Gohan – this is a cute Japanese tapas-style spot. I like it because it feels under-the-radar, low key, and delish.
Bessou – this is a chill Japanese spot with tasty, homestyle food, served in a beautiful, attentive way. It’s perfect for Soho shoppers who need a brunch break. (Love their brunch menu!)
Ho Foods – Ho Foods brings authentic Taiwanese cuisine to the East Village. Their branding is something that caught my eye and their interior feels intimate, intentional, and escapist (photo above).
Black Seed Bagels – This place is part of New York’s original bagel scene. I have found that I like to visit my fave design bookstore and top it up with my fave bagel from here. It never disappoints.
Blackflamingo – if you want to grab a drink, this is a lively cocktail bar right when you walk in (with a vegan-friendly menu of tacos and Latin-inspired small plates). They’ve also got the most fun (but really small!) dance floor for when you’ve had a few drinks.
Anfora – This place is so cute. It’s small, intimate, full of natural wines, and it doesn’t have a full menu, so you only have access to snacks. Perfect for dates.
Abraco – Abraco is a coffee place inspired by Spanish and Italian bars. It represents New York to me, because it houses so many different cultures (and their design aesthetics) in one small space. It’s colorful, poppy, and got a vibe to match. Plus, their coffee is great—and you can get house-made sweets.
3. THE BEST GALLERIES
Brant Foundation – The Brant Foundation caught my eye because it occupies a century-old building—originally designed as a sub-station for ConEd. Recently, they had the amazing Basquiat exhibit which was so perfectly curated to fit their space. If this is what their curation is all about, I can’t wait for what’s to come next.
Judd Foundation – Donald Judd’s art is simple, yet so powerful to me. The Judd foundation is a moment where you get to peek into the life of this extraordinary artist—and I love that you get these kinds of experiences in New York. If you love minimal art and furniture, you will fall in love with this place.