Stockholm Design Fair and Tobias Wong

Mop Chandelier in the Berns Hotel, Stockholm 
Two weeks ago, there was a large design conference in Stockholm called the Stockholm Furniture Fair. The four-day annual fair is the largest meeting place for Scandinavian furniture and textile designers. It showcases the work of approximately 650 exhibitors.

The chandeliers in the image above were created as a group project by first-year form design students at Beckman's College of Design, which is in Stockholm. The students were given a tight budget, a short time frame, and the prompt to transform a series of historic chandeliers in the lobby of a hotel. They choose to embellish the ornate chandeliers with white mops found at a local hardware store. A group of twelve students worked together to soak each mop in a flame retardant solution and assemble the mops on to a chicken wire frame, which was then attached to the chandeliers.

The decision to embellish the chandeliers with mops is an interesting play on materials since mops and chandeliers have very different connotations. Mops are commonplace, simple, dirty, disposable while chandeliers are expensive, fussy, up high in the air. The act of covering the chandeliers with mops is subversive yet visually stunning. Many other artists work in a similar fashion, in which the purpose of an object is transformed because it is covered by a different material.

For example, the recently deceased designer Tobias Wong created work that questions concepts like consumerism and luxury even though he worked in an industry that fetishizes material objects. Wong studied sculpture at Cooper Union and was influenced by subversive art movements such as Dada and Fluxus.
Tobias Wong & Ken Courtney (Ju$t Another Rich Kid). Coke Spoon #1. Bic pen top covered in gold. 2004
He created "the hidden diamond ring" in which the diamond is embedded on the inside of the ring band, dipped Tiffany's pearl earrings in black rubber and sold them in Tiffany's boxes, and fashioned a duvet cover out of kevlar.  He transformed Philippe Stark's iconic Bubble Chair into a lamp and cunningly displayed his version of the chair the night before the actual Stark chair was presented to the public. He participated in an art exhibition in Kennedy International Airport, curating for a gift store that sold cashmere sleep masks and designer air-sickness bags. He sold iPhones curated with music and other media for $2,000.
Killer Ring. 2004.
Can be used as a weapon or to scratch graffiti.                   
Wong has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. He has completed projects for Colette, Comme des Garcons, Prada, and Capellini. He was know for doing rebellious stunts in his personal life as well. For instance, the soft-spoken Wong baffled the audience at a design conference when a friend pretended to be him and gave his lecture. Wong's apparent suicide this past summer had a similar aura of mystery since Wong was diagnosed with a sleep disorder that allowed his to perform complex functions in his sleep.
Wong's tattoo that reads "Protect Me from What I Want", which is taken from the work of contemporary installation/text artist Jenny Holzer
This idea of covering/transforming objects can be used as a thought-provoking lesson plan in the classroom. In my form study class freshman year, we were given the prompt to cover an object in two different materials. I covered one mallet in egg shells and another with cotton swabs. Other artists who work in a similar fashion:
Meret Oppenheim. Object. Fur-covered cup, saucer, and spoon. 1946.

Damien Hirst. For the Love of God. Human skull, diamonds, platinum, human teeth. 2007.

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