SJ Zhang

About

A summary of me, my interests, my design career, and why/how this site was built.

Me

I’m a designer based in New York. I’m deeply fascinated by all design practices from UI history to iconic chairs. My master's thesis included an archive of influential 20th century industrial design. During undergrad, I wrote papers on Jony Ive and Issey Miyake. In those fashion years, I learned about supply chains and sewed dozens of garments myself. Growing up with an architect father, I’ve paid attention to shapes, forms and spaces at every street corner since I was a kid.

Another big part of my life is my pursuit to better understand how the world works. Complicated systems and economic patterns fascinate me. You can find what I’ve been reading in my Reading List.

As I learn I get interested in validating my understanding through investing. I participated in different venture related progroms at Kleiner Perkins and Republic and now often make deal introductions. You can get a look at my current investing portfolio here.

To keep myself active, I play table tennis at PingPod and boulder at a few different gyms in Brooklyn. I used to travel a lot between 2014-2018.

Career

I’m currently working at Series B fintech company Compound. In the 10+ years that I've been studying and working in design. I spent the first two in arts, and the next four years trying my hands in different design practices. In the last few years, I focused on designing and developing software products. I’ve worked in large design teams as well as performed as the sole designer for startups. If you are interested to know more, you can find me on Linkedin. I’ve also added a summary below.

2020–Now

Design at Compound

Started as the only designer from Seed to Series B. Then recruited and built a talented team of designers across product and brand.

2020

Design Fellow at Kleiner Perkins (Zumper)

Led Zumper’s landlord portal redesign to improve listing completeness and product adoption. Zumper is the largest US private startup in the rental space.

2019–20

Design at Friendly Studio

First designer at the design collective. Mainly worked for YC19 recruiting startup Flo Recruit. Design experiences across web, tablet and mobile use-cases for lawyers. Design and built landing pages and CMS-driven blogs.

2019

UX Design at Sonos

Led service connections redesign. Ran exploration on music scheduling experiences. Sonos app is used by 10M households.

2017–18

Web/Digital Design at Fashion Company

Led the website redesign and relaunched the e-commerce platform on Shopify. Supported social graphics and ran all email marketing efforts.

2015–17

Co-Founder at Fashion Company

Targeted the affordable luxury accessory market. Got some press, sales, and traction but ultimately closed it down. The site I built was featured as a Squarespace template example, which accidentally pushed me toward web and digital design.

2012–20

Freelance Designer & Intern at multiple Fashion Companies

Did graphic design freelance gigs, while doing the most ridiculous intern chores at different New York fashion companies.

This Site

This site was initially built in Apr 2022 over 2 weekends. I built it for 2 reasons:

  1. Keep myself accountable with my investments and learnings. Sharing these in public gives me another level of rigor.
  2. Keep myself engaged with the latest stacks. Iterating on my personal site gives me an opportunity to try new libraries and frameworks.

This site is built with Next.js and deployed on Vercel. Content is managed in Notion and statically pre-rendered through Notion API. When new discoveries are added on the go, content is regenerated at server-side on demand, without manual redeployment. Radix UI is used for front-end components like modals and tooltips. Next Themes made light/dark-mode management easy.

Contact

Email

hi.sj.zhang@gmail.com

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Stay in touch

I'm more active on twitter