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