michael tong art & design


Tong Studio is a custom architectural services company specializing in design and fabrication of metal and wood architectural components for commercial and residential clients who desire contemporary design. Examples of Tong Studio products include staircases, handrails, customized interior and exterior architectural features, custom built-in and freestanding modern furniture such as tables, credenzas and chair.

Working primarily with designers, architects and contractors Tong Studio specializes in design, fabrication and installation of hand made pieces.  Important secondary aspects include fine detailed applications; budget analysis; providing digital schematic & shop drawings (AutoCAD, Sketch Up).


about the design studio

about the artwork

Participation and Function are my key focuses; I am interested in the practical aspects of how things work.  The audience interacts with my sculpture through hands on usage. The primary concern of my research has been to establish connections between functional objects and their social purposes.

Beginning with the Buddha Head installation where I welded an oversized steel head that also served as my shelter.  As part of the piece I lived inside the head for five weeks during the exhibition “Let the Artist Live” at Exit Art.  

Ultra-Pro operates with a certain degree of tongue and cheek, it is a custom made stainless and bronze Charcoal Grill that I use during out door social gatherings.    The viewer by participating in an environment of leisure and pleasure reenacts certain social rituals thus became a passive consumer and a willing participant. 

Tea House Project   was an installation where I created a temporary social space as a place for people to meet, rest and drink tea.  Eight different kinds of tea were served in the Tea House.  People were encouraged to relax, take the time to talk and lounge around the space.  The act of tea drinking was then transformed into a “happening” event.

The Divine Fortune Teller, I sat inside a self-constructed structure that served as a temple. Just big enough for two people, I gave Oracle readings to who ever came inside.  Separated by a curtain I cannot see each individual participant.  Using a method of dividing fifty sticks and referencing The I Ching / Book Of Changes, I consulted each participant about their future and directions they should take in life.

From the series of work titled Heavy Medallions (Malcolm X, Ben Franklin) viewer participation is also critical.  In this case I want to include the audience as part of the work's resolution by asking them to wear the Medallions around their necks as a performance.  I want to push the breakdown of art with its public in a different direction by incorporating an obvious format of Hip Hop culture.  The medallions represent the gold and diamonds accessories (BLING) that signify power and success.  Yet I want to subvert it by situating it as a fetish of popular and political culture that equally thrives on symbols of the ruler and the ruled.