Winnie Cheung Interior Design Manager, Dodge Studio >

Winnie Cheung joined the Chrysler Group in September 2007 as an interior designer. Following initial sketching work for all Chrysler Group vehicle brands as part of the advanced (future product) design team, Cheung was appointed as the lead styling designer for the instrument panel and console of the 2011 Dodge Journey.

In November 2009, Cheung was named the lead styling designer on the 2013 Dodge Dart where she was charged with designing the front and rear compartments of the new C-segment Dodge product.

In addition to her interior design work at Chrysler Group, Cheung was selected with several of her colleagues to help design a new line of Dodge apparel in 2010. The team created various items featuring modern urban designs that correlated with the new lineup of Dodge vehicles. She has also served as a mentor on a Chrysler sponsored project at the College of Creative Studies in Detroit.

Outside of work, Cheung enjoys cooking, traveling, window shopping, various sports and always exploring for new inspirations. Cheung earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of California, Irvine with a minor in digital arts in April 2003. She also studied product and transportation design at Art Center College of Design in California from 2003 until 2006. Cheung was born in Hong Kong and raised in California.

HerHighway’s Editor in Chief Christina Selter interviewed Winnie at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show after the all new 2013 Dodge Dart launch, which was Christina’s first car. Winnie worked on the team that designed the interior of the 2012 Dodge Dart, you can watch some of the interview in the video below.

Who have you mentored?
While we have a lot of informal mentoring within the company, I was fortunate to be involved with some programs with college students as well. In 2010, Chrysler was project sponsor at the Center for Creative Studies (CCS). I was asked, along with one of my colleagues, Nick Malachowski, to head up the class. I directed the interior portion of the class and Nick directed the exterior. It was such an amazing experience!

The students were really excited with the object Nick and I came up with, rather than designing a specific vehicle, we had the students design an “AUTObiography”. They had to create a vehicle within one of the Chrysler brands that reflected their story and personality. It sounds easy…like “oh I can design a Viper” but it is a lot more complex. They really had to think about their needs and figure out solutions. It was interesting to learn about their personal story and how they built off of that. It was a pleasure helping and guiding them through the thought process to create a good product.

Did someone mentor you in this industry to help you get started?
I studied at Art Center College of Design in California. I started out studying for product design. It wasn’t until 2nd semester that I was exposed to transportation design. I remember that just the thought of drawing a car made me nauseous. I couldn’t imagine myself drawing a car. I hadn’t been exposed to anything like that growing up, I wasn’t familiar with cars, I was interested in other things. I took a rendering class that was taught by a former designer at BMW. I remember our first assignment was drawing a spaceship / speed form. Ever since then, I have loved transportation design!

I interned at Chrysler in 2006 and met a lot of Chrysler designers. My mentor was Irina Zavatski. She is an exterior designer. I really enjoyed working with her, and it was great to be exposed to a female point of view in the auto industry as I was starting my career

As a woman what features are your favorites in a car?
When it comes answering this question, the obvious answer would be storage spaces that allow women to store their purse. However, I think nowadays it is already given that the car should consider the practicality.

For me, I love driving. Driving gives me a place of ease. It gives me a sense of independence and in control. With that being said, I look for comfort, quality, and uniqueness. When I say uniqueness, I mean what makes the car different than others? Element of surprise. What makes me feel confident and proud, driving this car? Something like the glove box in the Dart that is much deeper than expected, an iPad fits in it, the under seat storage of the front passenger seat, or the cool storage pocket on the sides of the center console.

Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for females?
Fortunately I haven’t experienced a difficult environment at Chrysler, we have a really diverse team so we are all just designers. I think there is an old stereotype that exists, but the reality is women play a huge role in the auto industry. Women influence 80 percent of car purchase decisions, and more than 50 percent of vehicles are purchased by women. I think it is very important to have diversity in the team to get different inspirations, experiences, and thoughts and I’m fortunate to work in an environment like that in Chrysler. We are all here to create a good product that we are proud of.

Why did you want to work in the auto industry?
The auto industry is such a fun, yet challenging, fast-paced industry. It is a combination of all the things I love. It’s like working as an artist and designer at the same time, constantly coming up with a conceptual vision and then figuring out the details and feasibility.

First automotive job?
My first automotive job is my work as a designer at Chrysler. I’ve been with the company for 4.5 years and I really love it. It has been so much fun working with people that are so passionate about what they do and are so eager, like myself, to make a difference in this industry.

Proudest professional achievement?
This 2013 Dodge Dart. It was a fun adventure. We pretty much started with a blank canvas and painted our vision for this vehicle.

Current challenge at work?
The current challenge at work is how to change people’s perception of Chrysler.

Dream job?
To me, designing products that people love, appreciate, and are proud of is my dream job.

What you do to relax?
I love cooking, traveling, playing sports, and just window shopping. I am always on the lookout for different inspirations.