Oxo X ARTSTHREAD Graduate Residency - Interview with Monica Tong X Wai Yan Choi

China dumplings

OXO x ARTSTHREAD Graduate Residency Programme 2021 is a new initiative offering two complimentary studios at Oxo Tower Wharf for a four month period to graduate designer-makers. The aim of the residency is to support emerging designers in launching their studios, with a space to work, showcase their creativity and sell in the heart of London.

Monica Tong x Wai Yan Choi are a craft and design duo, recently graduated from Royal College of Art. Their works integrate Ceramics, Glass and Jewellery and they are constantly looking for cross-media collaborations. ARTSTHREAD speaks with ARTSTHREAD member Monica Tong.

ARTSTHREAD: Tell us a little bit about yourselves?

Monica Tong: Hi, my name is Monica. I was born in Nanjing, had lived in China, Australasia and California and worked in corporate finance before attending RCA. Having moved between four continents and now working through such unprecedented times, initmate encounters with clay provide me comfort and a sense of groundedness. My works are reflections of my inner emotional state and my adventures, past and future.

ARTSTHREAD: Why did you apply for this residency?

Monica Tong: I would like to use the space to incorporate different materials in our future designs. The space would allow us to make work that is both visually pleasing and functional on daily basis. By taking on further experiments as well as showcasing our working process with the possibility of gaining instant feedback from the potential users, we can carry on working in the momentum after graduation.

ARTSTHREAD: What are you looking to get out of it?

Monica Tong: The residency provides a test ground for us to learn how to run a studio / shop / workshop from graduation. How to present ourselves, and how to approach the market. 

ARTSTHREAD: You have been here for over a month what have you learnt so far?

Monica Tong: The lockdowns have reset us more towards the sensual needs, taking time to reprioritise and appreciate the natural beauty in our everyday life. We have gained many personal connections through studio visits, workshops and artist collaborations.

ARTSTHREAD: What are you impressions regarding Oxo Tower Wharf, have the fellow residents been supportive to you?

Monica Tong: Oxo Tower has such a vibrant, creative and supportive community. We were welcomed and supported by every member since day one. Many collaboration ideas were born at the residency and so as our friendship.

ARTSTHREAD: What are you looking to achieve at the end of this residency?

Monica Tong: To reach and inspire a wider audience through my work and workshops, to light the hopes of many in this special period of time. I also wish to bridge the aesthetic and cultural difference between the East and the West through my journey and hope people find resonance in their unique ways.

ARTSTHREAD: Whats your plans going forward?

Monica Tong: I look forward to the possibilities of international residencies in the near future, engage in conversations for social engagement, art-for-dementia, collaborative exhibitions and eventually start my own studio.

ARTSTHREAD: We wish you all the best for the future!

Find out more on the ARTSTHREAD website