Art and alcohol have long enjoyed a fruitful relationship - and most recently in the bold-striped design of New York's Bar Oppenheimer, a faithful recreation of the original in Frankfurt by German artist Tobias Rehberger
Design: Tobias Rehberger, MCH
What to do if you miss your local? Recreate it in another city of course. That's the tack that German artist Tobias Rehberger took when he designed the New York Bar Oppenheimer - in exactly the same size and proportions of its namesake in Frankfurt.
The temporary bar can be found at Hotel Americano, in Manhattan's Chelsea district. Although the hotel's architecture comes courtesy of New York-based Mexican architect Enrique Norten, principal of Ten Arqitectos, its European influence can felt immediately one arrives, with interiors by MCH Arnaud Montigny, a French firm best known for its work on the seminal French department store Colette. If its on-trend aesthetic doesn't allude strongly enough to its zeitgeist-capturing intentions then a quick look at the website will find blog posts on forthcoming cultural happenings from gigs to Jeff Koons' installations to Shakespeare performances. Bar Oppenheimer opened in mid-May to coincide with Frieze New York and was on show for just over two months. Says Rehberger. 'The way I look at it is like a suitcase. I'm going to be in New York for a bit, so I'm able to pack up my favourite bar and take it with me. I'm there for the art fair and the bar, so the bar has to come dressed as a work of art.'
The NY bar contains all the same furniture and interiors details as the original, from the lighting to the tall radiators. One marked difference is that this edition has every surface is covered in eye-tricking geometric stripes that flick around in every direction, mostly using a monochrome palette with flashes of red and orange.
The patterns are based on the concept of dazzle camouflage - a wartime tactic of using a busy surface design that made it more difficult for the enemy to pinpoint ships during surveillance, and which attracted the interest of artists, among them Picasso.
Bar Oppenheimer is a real contrast to the rest of the hotel. Guest rooms have the feel of an urban ryokan (Japanese inn) with wooden beds and natural materials while the permanent Bar Americano is where, one imagines, immaculately dressed guests snip cocktails or shots of Mezcal in the nicely neutral colour scheme, amid softly angled pieces of expensive furniture, rounded edges and mood lighting.
Although Bar Oppenheimer is a work of art , it is a fully functioning bar too, with the essence of the bar captured not just in its look but also in the menu, which includes Vodka Steins, Rehberger's own favourite drink.
This article was first published in fx Magazine.