My Tobi Wong
When news about Tobi Wong’s untimely death hit the Internet, many people remembered him as their collaborator. In one way or another, within community of New York designers, he indeed managed to do a project with virtually everyone around.
Here is the story of Tobi’s collaboration with our studio.
I think it was 2004. One day, Tobi Wong, whom I hardly knew at the time, called my studio and asked if we could please give him one of our old trash cans. Needless to say, a few perplexed questions followed, and once we agreed to meet the following day, he explained the gist of his idea. It turned out he had accepted an invitation in Williamsburg for an exhibition of new garbage can designs, before realizing that the project was all about recycled and renewable resources.
“They think they trapped me now”, he confided in me. “They are saying, let’s see what Tobi could possibly come up with.” Well, what he came up with was an illustration of the old adage, One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure. His object was (I quote Tobi's own description) “ an orange translucent plastic waste bin previously owned and disposed by the Boym Partners which includes actual garbage from their office.” It helped his project, perhaps, that our bin happened to be a Grcic’s old design classic.
I doubt that many in the crowd spent any time or effort to uncover and appreciate Tobi’s elegant design gesture. Yet for me, this was essential Tobi Wong: always challenging, capable of being outrageous and understated at the same time, ironic in the best tradition of Seinfeld, and tasteful like Oscar Wilde.
I’ll miss you, Tobi, I’ll miss seeing your name on an invitation and thinking: Let’s see what Tobi could possibly come up with.