New on the scene: +tongtong

John Tong, formerly a founding principal of interior design firm 3rd Uncle Design, has officially announced the launch of his new design studio, +tongtong, which will focus on creating dynamic environments and objects in a wide variety of sectors. The fresh, energetic studio is already setting itself apart in several ways, including highly collaborative relationships with its clients that produce personal, unique results. “It’s about discovering,” says Tong.

“Getting underneath and into a person or brand or company and discovering what their being is all about.” The studio is pursuing connections with other innovative members of the local and global design scene, such as Toronto design studio Castor and Norway-based Saunders Architecture, to further that collaborative approach.

+tongtong merges product, interior and architectural design into a multidisciplinary practice where the whole of each project is greater then the sum of its parts. The inspiration can be drawn from anywhere – as exemplified by the video on +tongtong’s landing page, which features Tong wandering around the city collecting objects and then creating his studio name out of found objects at a restaurant table. “Having a sense of humour, having joy in the process and in the relationships. Creating the space to rediscover things for our clients,” says Tong. “That’s what +tongtong’s focus is all about.”

It’s also about using the concept of Serious Play as a way of re-thinking the traditional design process to develop a different perspective for each project and client. This is exemplified in the Dr. Mariano Elia Hands-On Centre at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in which Tong crafted a massive craft table inspired by Dim Sum restaurants and in a feature light installation at the award winning Cafe Belong at Toronto’s Evergreen Brick Works. Other recent projects include the Drake Hotel’s new Prince Edward County location called Drake Devonshire Inn, a collaboration with prefab home builder Meka World on a multi-location floating hotel concept, a commitment with architect Todd Saunders to develop projects in North America together, and several exciting new residential projects around Canada and the United States. “I want to be surprised about what comes around the corner,” says Tong. “That dialogue is what I’m looking for. I’m creating a hub that draws creativity and work to us.”

A founding member of design studio 3rd Uncle Design, which operated from 1993 until 2012, John Tong (B. Architecture from the University of Toronto 1992) was principal-in-charge on such internationally-acclaimed projects as MTV Canada, the Drake Hotel, W Hotel Hoboken, Lululemon, MAC Cosmetics, exhibits for the Bata Shoe Museum, Dove, IKEA, Audi Canada and the Interior Design Show and numerous residential projects in Toronto and abroad. He is also on the advisory board for Institute without Boundaries and the Board of Directors for the Theatre Centre in Toronto.

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