tobias wong in 2008 at experimentadesign amsterdam portrait © designboom

canadian-born designer tobias wong passed away sunday, may 30th, 2010 at the age of 35. making a name for himself at such a young age, he was always provocative and witty, well known for his work which mocked its own consumption and subverted attitudes, injected with cultural commentary.

tobias wong 1974 2010 ‘this is a lamp’, 2001 was wong’s debut project in which he transformed a philippe starck chair into a lamp image © designboom

his dear friend and frequent collaborator aric chen has written: ‘through his work, wong helped bring forth much of what is now taken for granted in contemporary culture. influenced by dada and, especially, fluxus, he questioned authorship through appropriation; held a mirror to our desires and absurdities; upended the hierarchybetween design and art, and the precious and the banal; and helped redefine collaboration and curation as creative practices. working within what he termed a ‘paraconceptual’ framework, wong prompted a reevaluation of everything we thought we knew about design: its production, its psychological resonance, its aesthetic criteria, its means of distribution, its attachment to provenance, its contextualization and its manner of presentation. wong was a keen observer, an original mind, a brilliant prankster, and an unerring friend.‘

tobias wong 1974 2010 ‘gold pills’, 1998 so your shit will sparkle – pure gold leaf passes straight through the body and ends up in your stool…

also known as ‘tobi’, he moved to new york city in 1997, where he studied at the cooper union school of art, graduating with a major in sculpture. throughout his short career, his projects included those for cappellini, Hermès, prada / OMA, the apartment, comme des garçons, colette and swarovski crystal palace, to name a few, and his work was exhibited at MoMA, new york, art basel miami, moss, cooper hewitt…

tobias wong 1974 2010 tattoo, 2002 by jenny holzer tobias wong approached holzer at a show and asked her to write ‘protect me from what I want’ on his forearm, which he then had permanently inked

tobias wong 1974 2010 box cutter, 2002 zinc-cast and chrome plated with engraved text: ‘another notion of possibility’

tobias wong 1974 2010 ‘coke spoon 01’, 2008 in collaboration with ju$t another rich kid bronze casting of the ubiquitous bic pen cap dipped in gold

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