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Design Products (MA)

Colby Wong

Who's City Is It Anyways?

Our cities have become less about the comfort and the needs of their inhabitants, but increasingly about the control of populations.

It has been found that the health and safety of the street correlate with the number and variety of users across different times of the day. Within this context, how ,ay we reclaim urban infrastructures so that we may once again congregate, work, play, and relax in public spaces?

This assemblage of parasitic furniture is positioned as an activist project that hopes to empower individuals by activating "publicly owned private spaces" (POPS). Through providing comfort in activities such as commensality (the act of eating together), play and self-expression, users are afforded more personal experiences that invites them to inhabit public spaces more comfortably across London.

Response Map
Interview DataResponse map of interview responses.
Interviewing People
Interview DataInterviewing people and data conclusions.
Schematic of the prototype with user testing images
Providing ComfortUtilizing the intuitive structure of slotting dowels into a pegboard, this initial prototype acted as a starting point for me to envision what sort of activities could be facilitated through the deployment of portable furniture in the urban landscape. To illustrate what sorts of comfort could be provided for the users, I made accessories that could be used with the system.
Schematic of the prototype with user testing images
Giving Communities a VoiceCommunal identity is an important element in activating public spaces. This module has a clamp that permits the user to turn any horizontal surface into a stage to make a speech, recite poetry, or even play music. The base, a combination of a drawing horse and a backpack, holds the accessories in one unit for the operator to store their belongings.
Schematic of the prototype with user testing images
The Impact of FoodThe act of sharing food has long been a practice used to build relationships with friends and strangers alike. Utilizing this dynamic, I created a platform that can be deployed on any vertical surface: such as trees, lamp posts, and iron wrought fences. A portable camping stove can be installed, where hot meals can be prepared for participants.
Assorted details of prototype assembly
Activating Public SpacesHaving connected with my users and conducted interviews with commuters, park-goers, and residents, I utilized their feedback from my previous iterations to develop a more targeted response to provide comfort in public spaces. This artefact, features more food related modules and offers a larger surface for users to play and cook. Structurally integral parts have been threaded, Striking a balance between intuitive assembly and durability.


Rhode Island School of Design (2013-2017) BFA Industrial and product design

Royal College of Art (2020-2021) Graduate Diploma of Art and Design 

Royal College of Art (2021-2023) MA Design Products


Co-Design Partner, Fine Arts Instructor, CAD Instructor, CAD Architectural Draftsperson, Independent Graphic Designer

Me sitting on a wooden prototype for testing.

Growing up in Canada, a proverbial cultural mixing-pot, I was exposed to many perspectives, philosophies, and people. Being brought up in this environment acted as a platform for me to investigate my interests in problem-solving strategies, engaging with others, and projects in the social innovation sphere. My time at RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) has given me a myriad of skills and methodologies to further my research. Looking towards the future, I implore other creatives to not only to think about what art and design practices can produce, but how we may leverage design practices to challenge current paradigms.