How I Got Here: Alicia Cheng

Designer, author and now head of design at the Met, Alicia Cheng discusses a career spent in the cultural sphere – from setting up an all-women design collective to the thrill of moving people through an exhibition space

Alicia Cheng has worked with some of the most respected cultural institutions in the US, including the Guggenheim Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art – where she’s recently been appointed as head of design.

Cheng was born in Michigan, and although she originally studied English and dance – a stint ‘moonlighting’ in a graphic design studio got her interested in the visual arts. Fast forward to 2002, and she’d co-founded all-female design studio MGMT, which would go on to work on print, branding and data vis for a long list of cultural clients. She’s also the author of This is What Democracy Looked Like: A Visual History of the Printed Ballot, which she describes as a rare chance to fully indulge her love of learning and research.

In an interview with CR, Cheng went back in time to revisit the “revelatory” moment when design clicked, discuss the joy of using creativity to move people through space, and remember some of the most challenging and significant projects of her career to date.