this issue contains
>> The Incredible Lightness of Being Mariko Mori
>> Ina Weber

>> archive

Coffee Rings Included:
Ina Weber’s Installation “Welcome to the Club” at the ibc

Welcome to the Club, 2005, Exterior view
Photo: Bärbel Högner Deutsche Bank Collection

The ibc in Frankfurt, which Deutsche Bank moved into in the spring of 2004, is a functional and transparent building. Around a thousand people work here in 30,000 square meters of office space in an ambience of glass, steel, natural stone, and concrete. At the same time, an extraordinary selection of art can be found at Theodor-Heuss-Allee, one of the most visionary worldwide. The series "Art at the ibc" introduces the artists participating in the project together with their works. We’re beginning with Ina Weber, whose installation "Welcome to the Club" implants the traditional atmosphere of an English gentlemen’s club into the large open office space of the present day.

Welcome to the Club, 2005, Interior view
Photo: Bärbel Högner Deutsche Bank Collection

Sometimes, only a brief moment of contemplation is required to perceive just how things have become in everyday life. Even if it’s no longer the dining car one visits on the Intercity train, but rather the "board bistro," while a kiosk in the lobby of an office complex carries the name of "coffee corner" and a small seating arrangement is transformed into a "lounge," the appearance of modernity and exclusivity nonetheless carries an aftertaste of the profane. While everywhere between New York and Singapore uniform shopping malls, coffeehouse franchises, and flagship stores are springing up out of the ground, their "original" interiors can’t conceal the fact that globalized culture is increasingly bringing forth nearly identical modules of design and architecture. In a fast-paced society, a longing for inner peace, belonging, and a connection to place and people is increasingly being met by mass-produced surrogates of coziness: in the upholstered furniture of Starbucks, the midsummer-night festivals of Ikea, or the reading sections at Barnes & Noble.

Welcome to the Club, 2005, Detail
Photo: Bärbel Högner Deutsche Bank Collection

A quiet corner, initially reminiscent of such commercial models, was also set up in the large office space of the ibc in Frankfurt. In the midst of transparent think tanks, file cabinets, and computer screens, Ina Weber’s installation Welcome to the Club exudes an atmosphere of the respectable. Outwardly adapted to the cool, functional look of its surroundings, a modified version of a classic English membership club lies concealed behind the tinted panes of a raised glass box. While the pedestal is covered in simple corrugated metal on the outside, the room’s interior is paneled in fine American walnut. The club is furnished with heavy leather chairs, an artificial chimney, a small library, reading lamps, and antiquities. The mixture between new and old, personal and anonymous lends the ambience an entirely individual character. Instead of a representative, stylish environment or corporate identity, Weber presents us with an interplay of unusual details that somehow seem out of context: hand-sewn pillows, chimney tiles decorated with ants and spotted salamanders, or a selection of books the Berlin artist compiled while perusing used book stores and on the recommendation of friends. All of the books in the club, ranging from the complete volumes of Hessian Cuisine through Maupassant and on to the autobiography of Beate Uhse, bear an ex libris stamp Weber created especially for the work.

Welcome to the Club, 2005, Ex libris stamp
Photo: Bärbel Högner Deutsche Bank Collection

"When I began thinking about what I should do for a large office space, I didn’t come up with very much at first," Weber recalls, who herself once worked in the headquarters of a large London-based credit card company. "And precisely BECAUSE I know all that, BECAUSE I know how that is, all I could think about were the coffee stains on the rugs. And then I thought about it some more, and then, finally, a kind of design criticism grew out of it." The pattern of stylized, abstract coffee rings she worked into the carpeting should also be understood in this sense. While annoying stains could otherwise normally disturb the design’s flawless appearance, Weber deliberately integrated this everyday evidence of use into her work.

[1] [2]