I loathe engagement rings.
Even as a wee lass, the romantic notion of Prince Charming slipping a diamond engagement ring on my finger filled me with a sense of dread. Much older and arguably a little wiser, the commitment phobia I experienced has dissipated but my loathing of engagement rings remains — if you’ll pardon the pun — rock steady.
Only one engagement ring has conquered this loathing and left my ring finger tingling in anticipation of a fitting. That very special ring was Tobias Wong’s Killer Ring. Constructed of a razor sharp diamond set backwards in a durable yet comfortable setting, Wong’s engagement ring is to die for and to kill with. Outfitted with a single-karat rock, the ring functions as a serious weapon, but, as always, size matters and the bigger the bling, the deeper the cut. Alternately, Wong’s engagement ring could serve as a stylish and effective means of scratching love letters into department store display windows or carving a scathing indictment onto a cheating ex-fiance’s ride.
Earlier today, I learned that the brilliant designer behind my dream engagement ring committed suicide in his East Village apartment last week. Self-described ‘paraconceptualist’ Wong, 35, shrugged off this mortal coil in the apartment he shared with his partner of five years, Tim Dubitsky.Of his work, Wong noted: “I don’t want to make ‘art’ or ‘design’ necessarily. It’s just stuff, extra stuff in the world. Art galleries and design showrooms are places where I have been able to do what I do, but that doesn’t make what I do either.”
Read the following excerpt from Wong’s NYT obit and take a look at some of his design, below.
From his obit: “Wong’s design and artwork —lamps, candlesticks, clocks, jewelry and, with his frequent collaborator Josée Lepage, conceptual retail installations — was aesthetically pristine. But he had the soul of a prankster. Some of his most controversial pieces were in his ‘readydesigned’ capsule collection, which repurposed iconic design work. One, 2001’s ‘This Is a Lamp,’ lit Philippe Starck’s Bubble Club Chair from within; Wong was able to secure a chair from Kartell, Starck’s license-holder, even before the debut of the original. For an installation at the Paris boutique Colette, he embedded diamonds into dimes.
Wong was a soft-spoken and gentle presence, but his satirical, cheeky work contained an undercurrent of violence. Bullet Proof Rose, featured in The Museum of Modern Art’s 2005 exhibition ‘SAFE: Design Takes on Risk,’ is a flower-shaped brooch made of Kevlar. His ‘Aalto Door Stop’ is a cement block cast from one of Alvar Aalto’s Savoy vases; its construction process requires the shattering of the vase to extract the piece inside. For another diamond project (Wong loved to subvert their conventional glamour), he set brilliant-cut, solitaire stones backwards into pronged engagement ring-style settings to form glittering, dangerous spikes.
At the time of his death, Wong had begun to lay the groundwork for a creative agency that would include Lepage, the design journalist and consultant Aric Chen, and Frederick McSwain, who works for the Italian furniture company Cappellini. According to Chen, the agency would ‘organize ‘happenings’ and pop-up stores, curate collections of objects for shops and brands, and come up with design objects.’ Chen said of his friend and collaborator: ‘Tobi’s genius was his ability to capture a million different ideas in one simple gesture. The world will be a lot less interesting without him.’”