Your favorite bar is a sacred thing. It’s a port in the storm, a place where everyone knows your name. When the artist Tobias Rehberger moved from one Frankfurt neighborhood to another, he found himself longing for Bar Oppenheimer, his water cooler of choice. So he decided to clone it. But the initial plans to create a replica in his new neighborhood morphed into something more transcontinental: a three-month pop up bar in New York, timed to open during the Frieze Art Fair.
The German artist set up shop, or bar, in the basement of the Hôtel Americano, in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. “The size, proportion, and furnishings are exactly the same as in the original bar,” Rehberger tells Co.Design. (Rehberger has patronized the original Bar Oppenheimer for 27 years.) “The main difference is the applied pattern,” he says.
The black-and-chrome stripes zigzag around the bar, creating optical illusions and some confusion about how far the tiny space extends. But it’s not all psychedelic smoke-and-mirrors: The striped patterns were modeled on a trick used during World War II, called dazzle camouflage, that submarines used to confuse enemies. (Historical connotations aside, it could come in handy for the bar’s patrons.) Other variations on the replica include a portrait Rehberger added to the wall behind the bar and some handmade ashtrays.
Above all else, the art installation is fa ully functioning bar that’s open to the public and which is readied for long nights and memories in the making. Unless you’re the artist himself: “When it comes to bars, it’s all about the moments one doesn’t remember afterwards.”