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Lean by Design.

Design to nurture nature and humanity.

Lean by Design is a videographer, urban researcher and visual storyteller based in New York City and focused on sacred space. We are involved in community-informed architectural design, city planning, preservation advocacy, and social history documentation projects for the following clients:

❃ Architecture and urban planning firms

❃ Real estate developers and building owners

❃ Universities and cultural institutions

❃ Wellness and holistic health brands

❃ Faith-based organizations

❃ Neighborhood groups and municipalities

Our work conveys a distinct vision of promoting harmony with communities and the environment. At the heart of what we do is forging a connection between people, space and earth.

Services + Portfolio

Client Work.

Documentation with a sense of place.

Melissa Chua

Melissa Chua, founder at Lean by Design, brings over 10 years of global experience producing videos and crafting brand identities for research institutions, ad agencies and real estate firms. She came to her own sense of place by immersing herself in diverse cultural contexts, creating music, practicing Raja yoga and pouring over architecture textbooks. Her resulting sense of form and aesthetic in architectural photography is informed by nature and the human condition. Melissa holds a BS in journalism and an MBA from the University of Illinois.

Quiet mastery, earth-centric flair.

Meet Melissa.

Meet Melissa
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Third Eye Icon - Lean by Design
Lean by Design Logo
Earth Icon - Lean by Design


People make community.

Our holistic approach to architectural photography and storytelling is personal. We capture architecture through the eyes of the communities and people it serves. Our video production services are journalistic, ethnographic,

and intentionally unscripted to grow your brand’s authentic voice.

Place makes it home.

We are drawn to the power, spirit and beauty of place, as well as the sanctuary of home. Therefore, our photographic style is organic in that it reflects the architectural order of nature while embracing the impermanent and the imperfect. Stories are composed in a whimsical yet photojournalistic way to make a space feel "lived in" and supported by a community.

Planet makes it sacred.

We work with purpose-driven clients in architecture, education and wellness who strive to improve the quality of life for others and operate in harmony with the earth. Client relationships are kindled with simplicity and elegance.

Purposeful storytelling, harmonic outcomes.

Grace Kim - Lake Forest Academy

"Melissa is a talented professional who brings great energy and commitment to every project. I enjoy working with her tremendously, and the communication between us has been clear and honest. I have my full trust that she can deliver on a project!" 

—Grace Kim, Dean of Communications, Lake Forest Academy

Matt Nink GYLI

"Melissa and Lean by Design are simply excellent. They grasped the key concepts of what we were trying to say and helped us craft a branding video that we are proud to display everywhere. LBD is professional, capable and visionary, helping you tell your story and polish your key messages."

—Matt Nink, Executive Director, Global Youth Leadership Institute

Garrett Pauley Gies College of Business

"Our office lucked out when we found Melissa Chua. She was extremely professional, fun and creative. We were searching for a videographer, but we got so much more. We found a storyteller – someone who could convey what it meant to be a business student, in and out of the classroom."

—Garrett Pauley, Director of Digital Media, Gies College of Business, University of Illinois 

Clients Trust Us.

Relationships are cherished.

Client Testimonials
Iceland Portrait

Get in Touch.

Creative collaborations begin here.

  • Email
  • Lean by Design Instagram
  • LinkedIn: Lean by Design
  • YouTube: Lean by Design

Thank you! We will reach out to you shortly.

Lean Journal

Lean Journal.

Architecture and cultural travel.

Travel definitely informs our worldview, expands our storytelling capabilities and allows us to excel in our international partnerships.


Click through the gallery below for a glimpse into Lean by Design's architectural journey around the globe and the iconic designs that inspire it.

We're available for editorial collaborations:

  • Email
  • Call us

+1 929-445-3707

Ready to discuss?

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