Scene in the City: Witty Works of Wong

The Artist

Donald Tobias (Tobi) Wong – 1974 – 2010                             A Designer who made Art & an Artist who Designed     

Wong’s World – a visionary, collaborator, anti-consumerist, provocateur, “paraconceptualist“ (as he called himself), prankster – was 35

He was a designer whose outrageous mimic of luxury goods and witty expropriation of work by other designers blurred the line between conceptual art and design.   Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wong attended the University of Toronto, studied Art and Architecture at Cooper Union in Manhattan then concentrated on sculpture. The design and art world lost one of it’s brightest stars when he sadly took his own life at his home in the East Village.

Killer Diamond – look closely and you can see the claws.  Double click to enlarge.

Clever objects of Desire:

This diamond has been set upside-down, pointy and sticking out, and is held within 4 claws.

Catherine Osbourne of Azure Magazine says it as “the most truth telling, bittersweet object I’ve ever seen that describes what marriage really feels like.”

Lit from within

This is a lamp!

Philippe Starck Bubble Club chair turned into a softly glowing lamp.

The wrong store – double click to enlarge

One of his most elaborate productions was “the Wrong Store“, a hoax-like exhibition he organized in 2007 with Gregory Krum, the director of retail at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

The store, in a tiny Chelsea gallery, was stocked with objects by artists and designers from the United States and Europe and appeared, from the outside, to be a bona fide business enterprise. Mr. Wong had a business phone installed and printed letterhead paper and cards for a nonexistent group of directors.  All was not as it seemed, as the discerning might have gathered from a sign in the window that read, “Come In, We’re Closed.” In fact, the store had never opened.

elaborate gold bill holder used for snorting drugs.  Double click to enlarge.

Other companies were not as accepting of Wong’s work. In a collaboration with Ju$t Another Rich Kid, Wong turned a McDonald’s coffee stirrer (an infamous 1980s “icon” that frequently appeared as evidence in drug trials) into a coke spoon.

Protect me from what I want tattoo

His one-man show is currently on display at the Vancouver Museum (at the Planetarium).  I went to the opening and it was most interesting. You may not love it all but all will agree that he was an Original! See more below:

Wong’s work was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, SFMOMA and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. He completed projects for Colette, Comme des Garcons, Prada/OMA, Cappellini and Swarovski Crystal Palace.

Photos: d. king

Every household needs a humble handy helper named Susan

One thing after another, after another…….

As a pre-teen I was hoping to solve exciting mysteries just like Nancy Drew. My mom had kept all of the original hard cover collection and read them herself as a teenager. I was fascinated by this teenage sleuth and read the whole series like there was no tomorrow.  One electrifying story after another.

Now….there is one domestic mystery I want to get to the bottom of and no one seems to have an answer – the case of the Lazy Susan!  


Logic dictates that some time long ago, a sloth named Susan inspired an entire galaxy of twirling servers. Who was she and why did she invent these turntable trays that link her forever with an insulting adjective?

It’s a great mystery,” says Sarah Coffin, head of the product design and decorative arts department at the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York. “I have no idea who first came up with Lazy Susans, although I’ve wondered.”

Keep all your condiments together for easy access.  Looks like I can use one more.

Oh great – still no clues!  So to the best of our knowledge the ‘Lazy Susan‘ as we know it was originally referred to as dumbwaiters, a term today applied to a small elevator for transporting food.  It may have become popular at a time when household servants were in declining supply. In the absence of maids or footmen to refill wine goblets and deliver condiments, diners were forced to reach across the table or interrupt conversation with “pass the crumpets and clotted cream please.” The Lazy Susan helped to solve that problem.

Henry Ford, the car company founder, loved camping out with friends but thought it unseemly to truck his full contingent of servants to the wilderness. Instead, he transported a 9-foot diameter dining table with an immense Lazy Susan mounted on top, so guests could serve themselves. Photos of his 1920s outings, and the table itself, are in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich.

The Lazy Susan is now commonly used in many Chinese restaurants among other places to facilitate dishes being shared communally.  Yet no matter how long or how hard the Lazy Susan works, people rarely notice. They’re more interested in what’s on it.

This on fridge top shelf makes it easier to access jams & spreads.  No reaching behind.

How many do you own and how often do you use your LS?