World Economic Forum

for: Red Hongyi
with: One Design Office
year: 2015
role: Parametric designer
location: Davos-Klosters, Switzerland
type: Installation

Red Hong Yi is an international artist who ‘paints without a brush’ and is known to create artworks using everyday objects. In 2015, she was commissioned to represent Malaysian culture as an artwork at the World Economic Forum. For the showcase, she chose to use 20,000 tea bags to illustrate the ‘Teh Tarik Man’, the Malaysian barista. As Hong Yi says, “Perhaps more important than the drink itself is the underlying culture. Locals gather in kopitiams and mamaks, and here they talk about where to buy the best durians, the traffic, politics, weather, soccer… It is a drink that brings people together.”

To realise her artistic vision, I worked with One Design Office to plan the construction and assembly of the installation. Photographs of the ‘Tarik Man’ were taken, pixelated and mapped onto a grid to build the installation in segments. The photograph was manipulated to determine the quantity of each dyed tea bag and instructions on how the tea bags were arranged and assembled were created. The design took 10 days and the fabrication and assembly process took over two months. The artwork weighed over 200kg with a size of 3.2 x 2.2 metres.