This past fall, Dong-Ping Wong of Food took over a storefront near his firm’s Chinatown office to launch a radical pop-up educational and hangout space he called Office Hours. Along with workshops and other programming, Wong led an audio livestream, Food Radio, where he invited over 50 guests—artists, architects, designers, musicians publishers, and more—for nearly 40 conversations. Now, all the broadcasts have been archived and are ready to be listened to anytime on Food’s website. Office Hours’ mission from the get-go was about inclusion, education, and action across race, class, and age facilitated by an open door policy, workshops throughout the day, and Food designers going out to round up local kids and teens at the library. Hardly recorded in a isolated soundproof room, the Food Radio conversations took place in the back of the pop-up's narrow storefront space, and during the broadcasts you can hear Wong and his guests chatting with people coming in and out who might’ve come to say hi or listen live, or just to see what this new space on the street was all about. By bringing together a broad swath of architects, curators, politicians, and others, Wong wanted to show people, especially younger generations, that making a career out of creative work was possible and to highlight the experiences of creative people who local children might identify with. As New York state assembly member Yuh-Line Niou told Wong, she believes it's necessary to “tell young people not to self-select out,” that just because they haven’t seen people of their background—children of immigrants, people of color, people of various class origins—yet in fields that they might find interesting, or this is “the first time they’re seeing it,” that it remains possible for them to follow these paths, and, perhaps more importantly, make their own. Many of these guests really got their starts by daring to do something that no one else had done, Wong explained. “We've seen a lot of our guests using a lack of familiar model as a springboard to do something totally unique," Wong said. "Sometimes you just have to make stuff when nobody asked you to.” The expansive and radical proposition of Food is to make new possibilities for others. While all of the conversations were original and informative, some standouts include those with architects Toshiko Mori and Tei Carpenter of Agency—Agency, mother and daughter (though with their own, separate firms), for their first family interview; creative director Heron Preston, who has collaborated with Kanye West (Wong has, too) and Virgil Abloh; SO-IL co-founder and principal Jing Liu; Oana Stanescu, who ran Family with Wong; and Christopher Leong and Dominic Leong of Leong Leong. Many of the conversations were both seriously casual and casually serious, much like the whole project. Mori and Carpenter, for example, explored a range of topics: what they did that week; how they each got their start; how to learn from one another as architects across generations; how they’re approaching their careers differently; being Asian women in the field; the responsibility of architects to engage and communicate across disciplinary and political lines; the field’s need for a “diversification of moral practice;" and that perennially impossible problem many of us face: knowing when to say no. Since Office Hours has gone off the street and there’s no chance to drop in any more, these recordings offer an opportunity to connect, listen, and share across disciplines, time, and geography and are an imperative intervention to shift the conversation on architectural practice and, simply, remind everyone to believe in their own power and creative drive.
Posts tagged with "Dong-Ping Wong":
Earlier this year, when architect Dong-Ping Wong branched out to start his own firm, he found himself going through name after name but none seemed to have the right ring. Finally, the word “food” occurred to him. Ridiculous at first, it wouldn’t leave his head, and so it stuck. Food, the firm, was born. Food, said Wong, is “something that everyone has an association with and a relationship to.” It is something people “can come together around.” Food as an architecture firm name, he points out, is unfortunately also very hard to Google. But that hasn't stopped them from working on projects for clients ranging from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to Kanye and Kim Kardashian West. But it's their most recent project, Office Hours, where the name's magnanimous universalism really shines through. For Office Hours, Food has taken over a storefront on East Broadway in New York’s Chinatown for three weeks of programming centered around an online radio station (to be distributed in more permanent format later) as well as various community projects and events. All manner of creative people, like chef Angela Dimayuga, artist Jon Wang, designers Chen Chen and Kai Williams, SO-IL partner Jing Liu, DJ Venus X, and creative director Heron Preston have come through and spoken on the air. As the website for Office Hours notes, the events, like actual office hours, also serve as an “open invitation.” People can come in and listen, and youth are particularly encouraged. In fact, Food members have stopped by the public library on more than one occasion to invite kids and teens in and people have come in off the street to do work or check out the "reading room." Office Hours is committed to promoting people of color and those who live in the largely-immigrant neighborhood. As the project description notes, “In New York City, one in four Asian Americans live below the poverty line…Unsurprisingly, many young people that grow up in this environment self-limit what they see themselves being able to do.” The purpose of Office Hours, in part, is to expand this range of vision and imagination by introducing youth to the whole array of future possibilities for themselves. The space, which is laid out with some wiggly custom-made gray plywood tables held up by Ikea desk legs, has hosted happenings for all ages—from drawing lessons to impromptu happy hours. Office Hours continues through November 16 and all are invited to intend. The schedule and the live stream are available on Food's website.
To facilitate exchange and collaboration among its alumni, Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) has launched the GSAPP Incubator, a co-working space for the school's graduates. The incubator, directed by Assistant Professor David Benjamin, has precedent in GSAPP's Studio-X, the Soho salon and exhibition space active from 2008–2014 (Studio-X's global branches are alive and well). Thirty individuals in 11 member groups will work on design projects and criticism across disciplines. The GSAPP Incubator shares space on the Lower East Side with NEW INC, the New Museum's incubator. Consequently, members will have the opportunity to forge partnerships with members of the museum and art worlds. The inaugural member groups' practices, studios, and partnerships range in focus from virtual reality to "urban acupuncture," emergency response, textile design, and resiliency. A(n) Office, founded by Marcelo López-Dinardi and V. Mitch McEwen, was picked by the US Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale to design for a seven acre property in Detroit. Eight graduates participate in [giving copy editors headaches as] member group : a workshop that "[examines] the spaces and modes of architectural practice that have emerged under the banner of 'alternative' – spaces which ostensibly operate in opposition to the institutions that surround them." Consortia, founded in 2014 by Christopher Barley, crafted digital strategy for the Chicago Architecture Biennial while Dong-Ping Wong and his group, "FAMILY + PLAYLAB + POOL," are building a floating, water-filtering pool, the world's first.
Meet the architect behind Kanye West’s 50-foot volcano, Los Angeles mansion, and design-savvy baby-proofing
Ironically, there are few surer ways to emerge from obscurity than to be hired by Kanye West. For Romanian architect Oana Stanescu, who designed a 50-foot stage-prop volcano for the rapper’s Yeezus tour, it meant finding a way to reconcile pop culture with utilitarian design. Stanescu and her partner Dong Ping-Wong, of New York–based design firm Family, recently completed the Hong Kong flagship store of Off White, a high-end streetwear brand founded by Virgil Abloh, West’s creative director. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Stanescu declined to reveal what other Yeezus-related projects are forthcoming, but she was reportedly hired to baby-proof and redesign the 9,000 square-foot, faux-French-Italian Los Angeles mansion the rapper shares with wife Kim Kardashian and daughter North West. As one of the designers behind the Kickstarter-backed +Pool project, which seeks to install a floating pool in the East River, Stanescu is persistently, if inadvertently, in the public eye. When queried about her name being dropped by the gossip tabloids after she designed West’s volcano, she pragmatically told the New York Times, “Design is at its best when it’s collaborative. I’m interested in pushing the boundaries of what architecture can do.” West made an appearance at +Pool’s Fall Swim Benefit in at Jane’s Carousel in Dumbo to support Stanescu’s project, set to be the world’s first water-filtering pool when it opens in 2017. The plus-shaped pool can reportedly clean 500,000 gallons or river water per day. Meanwhile, Stanescu has been photographed accompanying West on architectural field trips to seek inspiration for his pared-down Paris home, where she is adding a baby room. But she is not the only top designer West has consorted with—the rapper has also consulted household names Dirand, Vervoordt and Tristan Auer, neglecting an unspoken competitive code of conduct in the design world. “Right now Kanye is just sponging things up, observing how these people work,” Stanescu told W magazine. The architect first met West when he hired Rem Koolhaas’ Office of Metropolitan Architecture, where Stanescu used to work, to design a viewing pavilion for his short film Cruel Summer at the Cannes Film Festival 2012.
The architecture social calendar in New York includes a bewildering array of benefits, parties, fundraisers, and charity auctions. But the yearly event that brings out the most party loving architects is the Storefront for Art and Architecture's benefit and art auction. The Storefront always gets the most fabulous venues for its events and this year's was beyond spectacular: the 1893 Bowery Savings Bank. Designed by Stanford White of McKim, Mead and White the space takes up a huge through block site between the Bowery, Grand, and Elizabeth streets. The interior is a riot of colorful Siena marble walls, mosaic floors, faux marble scagliola columns, coffered ceilings, and stairs and skylights made of cast iron. This nearly indescribable landmark was the perfect venue for Storefront's grand director Eva Franch and even more grand board president Charles Renfro to introduce the gala's honored guests Olafur Eliasson and the composer, vocalist, and choreographer Meredith Monk. They appeared on a high balcony and spotlight like opera stars, talked about the importance of the Storefront to the arts community in the city and asked everyone to bid aggressively on the art works in the auction. Robert M. Rubin, Storefront board member, bid on a small Louis Kahn sketch. Other works by Ann Hamilton, Kiki Smith, Terence Gower, and Denise Scott Brown all sold to eager buyers. Bernard Tschumi, who donated a print from his Manhattan Transcript series, also bid on and, with his wife Kate Linker, gazumped all other bidders to take away a magical Meredith Monk print of a musical score. The event bought in a total of $344,370 to the Storefront.