The Roth Bar at Hauser & Wirth Somerset serves up a cocktail of salvaged materials

Art and entertaining meet in Oddur Roth’s bar sculpture at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, a site-specific installation and social hub

Roth Bar by Oddur Roth at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, made of salvaged materials
Oddur Roth’s bar sculpture at Hauser & Wirth Somerset will be kitted out with furniture curated by Paris-based architectural design firm Laplace
(Image credit: Bjarni Grimsson)

In 1997, the late German-born Swiss artist Dieter Roth installed a bar as part of his first exhibition for the Hauser & Wirth gallery in Zürich, Switzerland. Fully functional, it was also a performative piece in its own right, drawing visitors into the installation by recording and archiving their conversations. Since then, iterations of the original bar have popped up around the world, united by their tendency to weave site-specific materials into their design.

Now, artist Oddur Roth, Dieter’s grandson, is nodding to this history with a newly rethought Roth Bar, now open at Hauser & Wirth Somerset to mark the gallery’s tenth anniversary. Artist-in-residence Roth stays faithful to the original concept by using salvaged objects and materials in the composition. ‘The challenge with this is ensuring you respect the things that are already there,’ says Roth. ‘You don’t want to put in something that hogs all the attention. It has to be natural. The sculpture has to grow spontaneously and organically within the confines of the building it is installed in.’

Roth, who has been living in Somerset since the start of the year, drew on an eclectic array of materials for his design, frequenting local flea markets and reclamation yards. ‘These places are full of things that, at some point, were very valuable to someone, and that’s how they managed to escape being a kind of garbage. You bring these objects together, and use them as a base for painting, and then the object becomes irrelevant. But when you bring in people, they immediately make a connection to some of the objects.’

By imbuing these objects with both an aestheticism and a different functionality, Roth adds an emotionality to an interactive design. Not quite an installation, not quite a social space, yet ultimately, somewhere people will be keen to spend time, Roth hopes. ‘The objects you see are things you might know from childhood or have had in your home. It gives it a comfortable atmosphere, inviting you to stay and lose track of time. And then the boundary between what is and isn’t art becomes unclear. Can I touch this or not? It raises a lot of questions, like what you are and how things around you function; it’s not just a straight line through life.’ 

Roth Bar opened 25 May 2024 at the Threshing Barn at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, UK

A version of this article appears in the June 2024 Travel Issue of Wallpaper*, available in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.