Tobias Wong (1974-2010)

For several years now I’ve given my students an exercise based on the work of Tobias Wong — the artist/designer enfant terrible whose dada-esque work offered self-reffrential commentary on the intersection of design, culture and value. Through his work, interviews and collaborations with Philip Wood — the Citizen: Citizen curator who represents some of Tobi’s work — my students have found new levels of engagement with their work.

Tobias passed away Sunday. He was 35.

Like the rest of the art and design world, we owe Tobias Wong a dept for his contribution of conscience and clarity to our craft. Like his family and friends, we mourn his passing.

More on the designer, his work and a look at some previous mentions of him on this site.

  • I had never heard of Tobias Wong before this assigned reading, but immediately upon seeing his work he had my attention, and I sought out extra information. It is incredibly saddening to learn of his early death.

    Looking forward to learning what the exercise tomorrow will be.

  • Lydia Park

    I really enjoyed this reading and our class discussion about Tobias Wong but like Christine above me wrote, it is sad that he passed away. What I found personally most appealing about this reading was his responses to the interview questions where daily we hear, “do what you believe in hard enough and you’ll be successful”, but his interpretation was, yeah do you what you want but make sure it’s also appealing to the masses. I liked reading a realistic commentary of this art/design world we are living in. What made me truly sad about his death was if he had or at least seemed to have such a realistic view of the world and his successes, what then drove him to kill himself? That was one part of this reading/further research that scared me because even with his growing reputation there was at least one part of his life he was not content with.

  • Toby’s death is, indeed, a tragedy. Whether or not it was suicide is debatable. He suffered from a condition called parainsomnia, in which he committed seemingly conscious acts while technically sleeping. You can learn ore about those circumstances here:

    http://minesf.com/resources/cca/2010/06/29/if-i-should-die-before-i-wake…/

    You might also be interested in this related NPR piece on the same subject:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130644070