Site-specific commission by Esther Stocker
© Esther Stocker, Photo: Christian Kain
Artist Esther Stocker (*1974 Silandro, IT) has crafted a bespoke concept for the European Patent Office's brand-new cafeteria: the Cosmic bar. The crumpled, almost cloud-like sculptures that adorn the space serve both as decoration and as furniture or lighting fixtures. Their irregular forms contrast starkly with the precision of the linear black-and-white patterns on their surfaces, and with the geometry of the cafeteria’s interior too, inviting the imagination to take flight over a coffee or perhaps inspiring a surprising turn in visitors’ conversation.
The design of the Cosmic bar is seamlessly aligned with Stocker's broader artistic practice, which frequently explores the interplay between spaces, order and patterns. Her predominantly monochromatic works – Stocker seldom employs color – often incorporate overlaid grids. This is one of the ways that the environments she crafts challenge our perception of space, often intriguingly collapsing spatial depth into the illusion of a set of surfaces. Or in the case of the Cosmic bar vice versa: taking a material with a patterned surface and sculpting it into an entirely new form.
The EPO has a rich tradition of inviting artists to create permanent, site-specific artworks for its buildings. By integrating central themes of the collection – science, technology and the environment – at the same time as preserving their distinctive artistic signature, these artists enrich the EPO art collection and contribute to a stimulating office environment. While Stocker's Cosmic bar also gives standalone artworks a utilitarian purpose, her immersive design underscores how art can seem to effortlessly become an integral part of our everyday surroundings. This in turn enhances the informal ambiance of the cafeteria, intended as a space in which to gather, establish new connections and feel at home.