D. Tobias Wong 1974-2010

tobias wong sun jar

So often in the past few years, if you saw a product designed with style, humour and an environmental message, the designer was Tobias Wong. It started on TreeHugger with the Sun Jar.


It continued with his lucite-clad remote light switch for turning off lamps in inconvenient places.


We had not even posted yet about his recent and clever iPad case, just live two days ago on Core77, the day of his death at age 35. I only met him once briefly, but others knew him better. Alan Chochinov at Core77 writes:

The design world lost a dear friend early Sunday morning with the passing of D. Tobias Wong, whose wit and daring will be terribly missed, and whose design provocations provided a consistent touchpoint throughout much of the last decade.

Harry Wakefield at Mocoloco writes:

MoCo Loco has lost a friend, I have lost a dear friend. Tobias Wong, the Canadian-born, New York-based artist and designer, passed away in the early morning of Sunday, May 30, 2010. He was 35.

Here is the full text of the press release:

D. TOBIAS WONG, 1974-2010

D. Tobias Wong, the Canadian-born, New York-based artist and designer, passed away in the early morning of Sunday, May 30, 2010. He was 35. 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 hierarchy between 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.

Wong's work was widely exhibited, including at the Museum of Modern Art and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. His many projects included those for Colette, Comme des Garcons, Prada/OMA, Cappellini and Swarovski Crystal Palace. In addition to the objects he created, re-created, repurposed, rarefied and otherwise manipulated, Wong's work included events and happenings that included, among many others, a pop-up tattoo parlor at Art Basel Miami Beach/Design Miami and the Wrong Store, a "store" in New York that was in fact never open. (As with much of Wong's work, both were collaborations.) Wong was named Young Designer of the Year by Wallpaper* magazine (2004) as well as the Brooklyn Museum of Art (2006). In 2008 and 2009, he served as founding co-creative director of 100% Design Shanghai, affiliated with the 100% Design fairs in London and Tokyo.

Born and raised in Vancouver, Wong studied in Toronto before moving to New York in 1997 to attend the Cooper Union, from which he graduated with a major in sculpture. He is survived by his mother, stepfather, brother, partner and BFF.

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