Victor Hwang is a designer and maker based in London. His practice focuses on investigating our relationships with the things and tools that surround us everyday; how we make them, and how they make us. This is done through a broad range of outputs, spanning the material and the virtual, including installations, software, platforms, toys, furniture, research, participatory workshops and design methods themselves.
His approach is built on the understanding of design as a messy entanglement of people, tools and the world rather than a linear dogmatic process. It aims to engage with the real world at every point, as opposed to creating artefacts in isolation. This requires a broad range of methods, often drawing from action research and ethnography, to include collaborative mapping, movement exercises, collage, rapid prototyping, and more. These methods are often adapted to work collaboratively, and rejigged to respond to the wider context.
This participatory approach was most recently developed as part of a 9 month design residency at UAL's Challenge Lab, conducted with Sanaa Asim. Over that time they developed Around the Corner, where they worked with young people from South London to understand what public space is and could be through a series of hands-on workshops. These were designed to tap into participant's shared embodied knowledge, using it to develop interventions that make the public realm better for everyone. This extension of 'thinking through making' from a solitary to a communal practice was central to the project. New public seating based on the participant's final prototype is being installed in Peckham, and the project featured in the London Design Biennale as part of Eureka.
In the production of artefacts both physical and digital, he takes an expanded ecological approach. Drawing on Object Oriented Ontology, he seeks a more complex and entangled relationship with the materials taking part in a project than one of mere use and means-to-an-end. This approach requires a design process that understands artefacts as a loose assemblage of materials and connections for a single point in time. Through participatory design methods and workshops, often woven throughout a project, he aims to create spaces for people to develop their own embodied awareness of our material ecology.
He explored these ideas in the design of mater.digital, an Arts Council England funded research platform looking at artist's relationship with materials. Through in-depth research and material experiments with the underlying matter of the internet, he developed a deep design system for the project. This included infrastructure choices, the development of submission requirements for artists, and a maximalist ecological aesthetic used throughout. The resulting platform has a carbon footprint 95% lower than the average website.
Between 2018 and 2021 he led the design team at Farewill, a startup making it easier to deal with death. He previously worked at the BBC and UK Parliament. His work has been featured in It's Nice That, FAD magazine, Typewolf, Print Isn't Dead, and lowwwcarbon.