Stein Wang met his business and design partner, Topher Kong, while completing the Industrial Design and Furniture Design program at OCADU. Their creative approach balanced; Stein focused on the logical side of design, while Topher was drawn to the emotion.
The two creatives’ first academic collaborations led to the 2017 launch of Hi Thanks Bye, a furniture design studio based in Toronto.
Hi Thanks Bye first showcased their first designs at Design TO and then at the 2018 Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair, where the duo was selected as one of the fair’s rising stars and landed the studio media coverage in high-profile magazines like Wallpaper and Azure. After the success of that show, Stein and Topher knew they were on to something innovative with Hi Thanks Bye.
But even with such early success, Stein admits that there was still so much to learn about operating a furniture design studio.
“We are not taught how to monetize [our designs]. We are taught how to design our vision,” Stein explained regarding the path from design school to creative entrepreneurship. Exploring the cost and logistics of manufacturing oversees has provided Stein with a crash course into different business models and they needed to carve the path for Hi Thanks Bye to flourish in Toronto.
In an Instagram post, Stein saw the possibilities of the recently opened Artscape Daniels Launchpad, as a home for Hi Thanks Bye. The creative entrepreneurship hub differed from standard co-working spaces because it offered both spaces to collaborate with Topher, but also creative studios that facilitated his design process and allowed them to make early prototypes of their furniture.
When they pitched a submission for their Be My Guest collection to Design Shanghai 2019, Stein and Topher realized they would need to quickly prototype their designs for show in early March.
Stein speed-learned digital fabrication skills in Studio 101s and 201s under the guidance of Studio Tech, Alex Wimbush, to meet their tight timelines and emerged with their first collection.
Be My Guest was a collection of furniture and interior objects that encouraged micro-interactions to reduce the intimidation and awkwardness of social gatherings at home. The resulting showcase led Architectural Digest to select Hi Thanks Bye as one of the top 10 emerging Chinese designers – an amazing accomplishment in Stein and Topher’s careers.
We know it won’t be the last.