CEO of Cheng Chung Design

Joe Cheng

March, 2024

Joe Cheng, the visionary CEO of Cheng Chung Design (CCD), is a prominent leader in the hospitality industry, masterfully blending Eastern and Western design principles to redefine luxury. Established three decades ago, CCD has ascended to the top position in the industry, ranking first in global hospitality interior design in 2022 and “Top 500 Asian Brands” in 2019 and 2020, amongst a long list of other accolades. Joe impacts the global luxury interior design by creating spaces that evoke emotional connections and meticulous attention to details. Asia Designers Directory interviews Joe to delve into his journey and the exceptional work that has positioned him and CCD at the forefront of the industry.


What are some key considerations when designing for international hotel brands?

Every hotel brand embodies a unique era and culture. At CCD, we seek to highlight the brand in an urban context by being sensitive and daring to experiment and achieve breakthroughs. A hotel’s space, quality, and image act as a city’s business card, shaping its identity. In my design approach, I focus on both ends – the classic, such as the architecture in Kyoto and the culture of Beijing’s old alleys, and the contemporary, addressing the living needs of people today. For instance, the transformation of the Mandarin Oriental Qianmen Beijing from old Beijing courtyard houses preserves the traditional courtyard structure, creating a seamless transition from the lobby to guest rooms to capture the essence of traditional Beijing culture.



In Beijing, each season lends its distinct beauty. Drawing inspiration from the charms of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, we craft traditional courtyard scenes that convey this seasonal appeal. The aim is to provide a distinct experience in each season, crafting a captivating and immersive ambiance. Spatially, we partition the courtyard into living, sleeping, and relaxation areas, with the exterior showcasing blue bricks and grey tiles, while the interior portrays Eastern characteristics and appeal.

Another project worth mentioning is the upcoming Shangri-La Nanshan, Shenzhen, Shenzhen. Located in the Shenzhen Bay Super Headquarters Base, this hotel showcases the city’s future. Drawing from Shenzhen’s 40-year history and the theme of “birds returning to nests,” the design blends traditional Lingnan culture with a modern global perspective. Traditional Lingnan architectural elements like gardens, eaves, window patterns, hallways, and decorative motifs are reimagined through modern design techniques to provide an artistic portrayal of life and beauty of the Lingnan culture.



Have your designs evolved over the years or in what ways have you personally evolved as a designer throughout your professional career?

CCD has had to build its reputation steadily over the past three decades. A growing economic backdrop in China provided favourable opportunities for Chinese designs to grow, which has in turn fuelled CCD’s growth. From having to face rejections by international hotel brands to receiving acceptance, recognition, to eventually leading the construction of international projects, CCD now contributes towards shaping the design standards for famed global hotel brands. In recent years, CCD has become the sole design brand on the “Asian Brand 500” list, and the world’s top-ranking hotel interior design brand—an achievement I take immense pride in as a Chinese designer.

Initially, clients tended to favour European and American design styles. However, CCD’s strategy of blending Chinese culture and traditions into designs, while retaining a global perspective, started resonating with our clients. Over the years, we continually iterate our design style, adapting to industry and lifestyle shifts to ensure that our designs are dynamic and relevant. Essentially, our goal is to cater to the requirements of diverse markets.

In recent years, Chinese design brands have gained growing recognition on the international stage, winning many prestigious awards and taking spotlight in an otherwise Western-dominated landscape. As Chinese design brands go global, the Chinese design industry continues to flourish. Moving forward, the Chinese design industry will focus on technological innovation, cultural integration, customisation, and cross-disciplinary collaboration to grow its audience. At CCD, it is pivotal that we emphasise a global development strategy, fostering an international perspective, partnering with world-leading brands, and engaging in cross-disciplinary exchanges.


What changes have you observed in the priorities of hoteliers in recent years, and how have you adapted your designs to align with the evolving expectations in the hospitality sector?

In recent years, hotels have increasingly prioritised personalised experiences and environmental sustainability. For each new project, we seek to understand the local culture and integrate it into the hotel design through materials aligned with the desired theme. Many recent hospitality ventures aim for a “10-minute arrive in Bali” city resort experience, offering much-needed respite for urban dwellers without them having to travel abroad.

For instance, the Angsana Chengdu Wenjiang maximises the use of traditional Sichuan courtyard elements, incorporating local cultural landscapes to achieve this result. The interior features natural materials like wood, bamboo, cotton, and pottery, to bring more nature and sunlight into the city, thereby creating a micro-vacation experience.



In other examples, the DongFengYun Hotel Mi’Le – MGallery and 50% Cloud Artists Lounge in Yunnan, China, pay tribute to the building’s heritage and local culture. Using locally fired red bricks, cement, clay, and earthenware in the interior, every detail reflects skilled local craftsmanship. These projects pay homage to Yunnan’s arts through the use of local painting, ceramics, printing, and more.

Similarly, the Club InterContinental of InterContinental Shenzhen Dameisha Resort offers a serene and relaxing atmosphere by injecting natural elements like sunlight and the sea into the urban landscape.



CCD has successfully launched multiple brands to meet different market demands. Could you share the vision for these brands?

A hotel, akin to a small society, reflects a way of life in its design. Leveraging CCD’s expertise in hotel design, we extend design concepts to various spaces, earning recognition and fuelling CCD’s growth in the areas of luxury residences, restaurants, public buildings, commercial complexes, and wellness. In my opinion, the future of life and space is boundless. Therefore, we do not limit our offerings in terms of space categories or service domains, but extend comprehensive services from architectural and interior design to various disciplines like mechanical, electrical, lighting, signage, soft furnishings, and artworks. Our integrated approach includes sub-brands such as UCD, WOWU ART CONSULTANT, RARITAG, COSMO CROSS, customising products and services across disciplines.

It is noteworthy that my daughter, Renee, is the founder of UCD and COSMO CROSS. Her ventures are dedicated to revolutionising the supply chain in the design industry, with a focus on intelligence and curation in response to an impending AI boom. UCD’s IDEAFUSION is a digital platform with 1,800 suppliers, 30 material categories, and 350,000 styles that break geographical limits for material sampling. It facilitates real-time connections with suppliers, supports AI-based material search and recognition, streamlines designers’ tasks, improves efficiency, and drives the digital transformation of interior design.

Also founded by Renee, COSMO CROSS is a lifestyle brand inspired by current and future lifestyles, creatively blending space and home to deliver a unique experience. COSMO CROSS has partnered with many international brands, including top Italian bathroom and kitchen accessories manufacturer Gessi, German luxury lighting brand Occhio, and contemporary artist studio Yulonglab. We aim to produce products, creations, and spaces that add meaning, a sense of belonging, and appeal to users.


What key factors have played a pivotal role in driving the growth and long-term success of CCD? How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe what drives CCD’s success is authenticity. We place a strong emphasis on fostering creativity, innovation, and breakthroughs, as they form the very essence of our DNA. I believe the best work is always the next one – emphasising the need to continually innovate and learn.

Our Eastern cultural background is integral, providing a unique understanding of Chinese lifestyles. CCD’s designs reflect East-West fusion, bringing together elite individuals with inherent Eastern cultural backgrounds. We’ve collaborated with brands like Marriott and Hilton, setting global standards and showcasing the beauty of Chinese designs globally.

In addition, our commitment to perfection and attention to detail ensure designs that positively impact user experiences. Our pursuit of “doing things right the first time” contributes to projects that stand the test of time.

Finally, I prioritise nurturing talent, fostering motivation, and ensuring the ongoing growth of our designers. This level of acuity is vital for the enterprise’s development. I consistently maintain a sense of urgency, anticipate future challenges, and guide the team with a unique perspective.



What upcoming projects or initiatives does CCD have in the pipeline in the coming months?

This year marks CCD’s 30th anniversary, making it a significant year for us. Projects that have been delayed or put on hold owing to the pandemic will gradually launch, including the Shangri-La Nanshan, Shenzhen, Regent Shanghai On The Bund, and Mandarin Oriental Qianmen Beijing – hence a year of harvest for CCD.

Over the years, CCD has evolved from a small studio to becoming the world’s number one hotel interior design brand, collaborating with international brands and artists to co-create products. To share our gratitude, we’re hosting a series of 30th-anniversary events in Milan, Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. For instance, the “Stellar Voyage · CCD Night” celebration will be held in Milan on April 18, 2024. At the Salone del Mobile Milan Exhibition, CCD’s lifestyle brand COSMO CROSS and collaborations with SCIC and NEWFORM will be showcased.

Looking ahead, CCD will further deepen its presence in the international market, expand its global development, continue to explore overseas markets, and open offices in locations such as New York and Dubai. We will continue to focus on high-end projects, build collaborations, intensify R&D efforts, and amplify our impact on society.

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