Daphné Mandel was born in 1975 in Lausanne, Switzerland to a French father and a Dutch mother and grew up in Paris. She credits her Dutch grandmother, a respected textile artist, with instilling in her a deep appreciation of art and painting. Daphné studied architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning in Versailles and graduated in 2000. She co-founded the Paris based landscape architecture and urban planning firm Gilot&Mandel Paysage. She and her partner were named "Best Young Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture Professionals" by the French Ministry of Culture (2006). As a result, a number of public parks, city centres, cultural sites, and sports venues in France and abroad bear Daphne's touch. She found inspiration in her move to Hong Kong in 2008 to explore other means of creative and artistic expression.
Daphné's artworks explore old Hong Kong’s architecture while introducing imaginary and whimsical elements as a way to exploit the incredible urban paradoxes of this city in constant metamorphosis.
The evolution of her works is tied inexorably to the evolution of Daphné's perception of the city. In her first years in Hong Kong, as she was trying to comprehend the city around her, her works depicted Hong Kong’s facades as decor while catching glimpses of the goings on inside. Daphné’s work has morphed over the intervening years and she now seeks to represent, interpret and transform what she discovered. The works continue to evolve in a fantasized urbanscape, often disconnected from any sense of reality but incorporating poetry and illusion.
Using architectural rendering techniques permits Daphné to give a sense of ultra-realism to her works which contrasts with the more artisanal modes of expression such as painting and crayon. She finds that the perfect aesthetic and good balance exists somewhere between the tremendous possibilities offered by contemporary digital tools and more tactile, artisanal and traditional techniques, both of which are essential to her work. This contrast is also a mirror of Hong Kong’s urban aesthetic: the luxurious and polished juxtaposed with the untidied and derelict.