The Art of Ping Pong is making the world a better place – one paddle at a time

The Art of Ping Pong is making the world a better place – one paddle at a time

Words Vilma Paasivaara

Photographs The Art of Ping Pong

The brilliant charity auction The Art of Ping Pong has returned to London with a whimsical selection of table tennis paraphernalia by a dazzling line-up of designers, illustrators, and makers.

What began in 2013 as a ping pong party, organised by the design agency Fivefootsix, has since grown into a yearly event ‘colliding all the colour of art with the fun of table tennis’. The man behind this unique event is Algy Batten, co-founder and creative director of Fivefootsix, and this year he has enlisted 27 artists to create works for the online auction – more than ever before.

The auctions have raised an impressive total of £15,500 for various causes such as BBC Children in Need and the Roger Federer Foundation. This year the profits will go to Trekstock, who help young adults who’ve battled cancer rebuild their lives after treatment.

‘It’s a high speed game,
so I liked the idea of creating
a frozen moment, with an
intention of flow and gesture.’

Zuza Mengham and Sebastian Cox designed two of this year’s ping pong paddles – and Hole & Corner caught up with them to hear about creating for such an unusual collection.

‘I really loved this piece, it was such fun to design and make,’ Sebastian Cox said of the process. ‘The Art of Ping Pong brief really appealed to us because it allowed us to reimagine an everyday and somewhat disposable form in a much more considered and permanent way.’

Mr. Doodle’s hand-drawn ‘Graffiti Spaghetti’ paddle and the man himself drawing a ping pong table live at the launch event

Cox says he wanted to showcase the best of his material – wood – in making an everyday object into something more decorative. ‘I wanted the paddle and the handle to be made from contrasting wood species and for the moment where they come together to be a delicate and immaculate meeting. I also wanted the shape of the bat paddle to come, as much as possible, from the natural shape of the wood.’

Zuza Mengham also approached the project from the point of view of material first, as she often does in her practice. ‘It felt like a great opportunity to play with opacity by casting two handmade layers with differing qualities of movement so that each side of that bat offers a different surface.’ The functionality of a ping pong paddle, in the heat of a match, also played into her design. ‘It’s a high speed game, so I liked the idea of creating a frozen moment, with an intention of flow and gesture.’

Zuza Mengham in her studio and the resin paddle she designed for this year’s auction

The Art of Ping Pong online auction ends at midnight on 30 November and they are organising a closing event in partnership with Creative Debuts on the 29th, which will be the last chance to see all the paddles together – before they ship out to the highest bidders.

theartofpingpong.co.uk