When I first started thinking about a week of gold the first person who popped into my head was Tobias Wong. The Canadian designer made a splashing his shortly loved life by creating work which he called “paraconceptual”. When I first started seeing Wong’s I had a lot of trouble with it. It was brash, it was unforgiving. I would ask my friends, “How is that art, he’s just gold plating plastic crap!” I didn’t get it.
A perfect example are his Coke Spoons, two of which you see above, mundane objects cast in gold. When I first saw these I was confused. The missing part of the story for me was the backstory, the reason why he chose the objects he chose. For example, the McDonalds coffee stirrer, an icon of mundane design, was frequently found in drug-related crime scenes. So they started slowly phasing it out, eventually replacing it with a new design.
What Wong did was gold plate the McDonalds coffee stirrer, imbuing it with the idea of luxury. What was a PR nightmare for McDonalds was elevated to something coveted by the rich. At the end of the day though, it’s still just a coffee stirrer, right? And that’s why it’s art. It questions the very fundamentals of our culture. Does the simple addition of gold to a product bring value to it?
No stranger to gold, he also created Gold Pills. Taking luxury to an absurd level, he filled capsules full of gold flakes so you can literally shit gold. It’s this kind of hilarity and commentary that made him such a genius, at least in my eyes. We can only hope the world is lucky enough to have another interesting character like Wong enter the product design world soon.