|>mixte (france) 03.03
In a world in which Philippe Starck is designing polycarbonate Louis XV chairs and Karim Rashid has made his name reinterpreting everything mid-century modern (while calling it digital), it was only a matter of time before someone would start reappropriating, well, Starck and Rashid themselves. Enter Tobias Wong. Since graduating from New York's Cooper Union in 2000, the 26-year-old designer has, among other things, placed a light bulb inside Starck's Bubble Club armchair and called it a lamp, while 9/11 inspired him to take Rashid's hyperbolically-named book "I Want to Change the World" and cut out the shape of a gun. And then he has the nerve to sell them as his own.
"I don't really see myself as a bad boy," Wong explains, "I guess I'm just trying to be clever." Wong takes his cues from Dada - he calls his work "Readydesigned" - in a conceptual game that questions authorship, the nature of consumption, and the distinctions between art and the everyday. But while the dadaists took humble objects, like shovels and bottle racks, and elevated them to the status of art, Wong is taking the preciousness that's now assigned to everything from designer toothbrushes to name-brand serving spoons and bringing it all down a notch. Itís a commentary on hyper-consumption and, perhaps, the bullshit - literally - that can weigh down contemporary design. Heís sold capsules of silver leaf meant to pass through your system and come out sparkling at the other end. He's passed out hundreds of buttons emblazoned with Burberry's ubiquitous plaid that - to add irony to irony - were picked up by the company as a street trend and used in an advertising campaign. And this Christmas, in homage to the master of consumption, he offered to gift wrap presents at Troy, a design store in Soho, in original Andy Warhol prints. The price? Between $7,500 and $25,000.
- Aric Chen