6 THINGS WITH MANDY CHENG
6 Things with Mandy Cheng Founder of Mandy Cheng Design
Mandy Cheng, with nearly two decades in the film and television industry, started her career at DreamWorks Animation Studio before transitioning to a Production Designer for films and commercials. She has designed music videos for renowned artists like J.Cole, One Republic, and Dillon Francis & DJ Snake, and contributed as a graphic designer to projects including "20th Century Women," "Ladybird," and Beyonce's "Lemonade." Recognized in the AD 100 list consecutively for three years (2022-2024), Mandy has become one of Los Angeles' most sought-after interior designers. Leveraging her set design experience, she has made a significant impact in the interior design world. Mandy is also an intermittent contributor to Architectural Digest's video series, "Room Refresh," sharing her expertise in transforming spaces. Her journey illustrates a successful pivot from film to interior design, highlighting her versatility and creative vision.
1. What started it all for you?
I started out as a production designer and graphic designer in the commercial and television industry. For anyone that has been in those shoes, the early years are filled with last-minute tech scouts, long and intense prep and shoot days, a lot of building things, tearing down what you just built, and returns. Not to mention countless rain checks on plans with friends and family. I first met my now husband, an architect, during these years and he introduced me to my first interior design job, which was a full gut renovation of a two story condo. With his help, I renovated this condo and fully furnished it, and it was the first time I realized the satisfaction of longevity in my design.
Up until that point, my designs were held up with hidden 2x4s and butyl tape, so the permanence of the renovation was a new experience for me. From that point on, I started to develop my technical abilities and took it back to the foundational basics with interior design classes. I started to take small interior design projects while still keeping up with production and graphic design work, which was pretty nutty now that I think back on it. There was no semblance of work/life balance, but it was necessary. Over the years as I gained experience, hit road blocks, did lots of research, made mistakes and was awarded some wins, I've grown my studio to what it is now.
2. What drives your creative spark?
The joy that the clients have when I hand their completed home over to them. It really is an emotional and personal experience, allowing a stranger (me) to come into a home and trust me to transform it to fit their aesthetic and needs. Most of my clients don't realize the value of living in a well-designed home that reflects their personalities until it's done, and it seems that I've made it my mission to show anyone that's willing to hire me how impactful it is.
Another thing that keeps me going is being a good role model to my employees, several of whom aspire to have their own design studio one day. I really love my team and want the best for all of them. That also means I feel very responsible for them, so they're always in the back of my mind.
Things that I obsess over? Everything. Every little detail.
3. Most treasured home decor item?
My Strong Woman sculpture by Taylor Lee of Niche Ceramics. One of my best friends gifted it to me when I got married, and the significance of the sculpture runs deep. The first time I saw a sculpture made by Taylor was at my friend Arthur's house during a brunch gathering, and our group of friends (we referred to ourselves as One of the Girls Cafe), loved this little sculpture. It was a strong woman lying on her stomach, wearing a swimsuit. Within our friend group, one was battling cancer. This particular brunch is one of my most favorite memories of her and us. The Strong Woman that my friend gifted me for my wedding reminds me of that day, our collective delight over the little sculpture that Arthur had placed on his window sill as though she were tanning in the sun, our group of friends, and the strength of our friend, who has since passed.
4. What’s the best advice you've ever received?
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage. A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”
― Brené Brown, Rising Strong
5. It's 5 o'clock at home. What would you be pouring?
Either a bubbly water or a glass of Pinot Noir. Annadel Winery's Pinot is always a favorite, as well as any Pinot from Willamette Valley.
6. What are your 6 favorite accounts that you follow for inspiration?
"What drives my creative spark is the joy that clients have when I hand their completed home over to them. It really is an emotional and personal experience, allowing a stranger (me) to come into a home and trust me to transform it to fit their aesthetic and needs." -Mandy Cheng