Professor Hans Stofer


  • Professor Hans Stofer
  • Area

    School of Arts & Humanities


    Professor and Head of Programme

  • Biography

  • Hans Stofer was born in 1957 and brought up in Switzerland, where he trained as a precision engineer before entering the Zurich School of Art in the early 1980s to carry out a Postgraduate Diploma in ‘Schmuck und Gerät’ (Jewellery and Utensils). After graduation, Stofer was part of a design and making studio collective in Zurich. He emigrated with his family to London in 1987, where he now lives and works.

    In 2010 Hans Stofer presented a body of work, code-named Walk the Line at Gallery SO in London, and a space where ‘Art meets Design’; in the same year he curated (with Richard Slee and Freddie Robins as co-curators) Jerwood Contemporary Makers 2010 (touring) and took part in Straw Dogs at Spring Project, London. More recently he created an installation for The Nature of Things at the New Art Centre, Roche Court (2012) and a Beautiful Object at the ARAM Gallery in London (2012–13).

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  • Practice

  • Professor Hans Stofer is an engineer who thinks like an artist. He makes work that is for people and inspired by people. Stofer describes the central theme that links his varied range of interests and work as an exploration of the potential and possibilities of ‘material: time-based-matter’.

    Stofer is curious about how people think, why they use what they use and how this forms the premises for shaping attitudes. Until recently Stofer has explored the impact of object rebirth, the discarded, the repaired, the ready-made and the state of objects when ‘in’ – and ‘not in use’ – as a proposition for reflection.

    Stofer’s practice covers a variety of media, but frequently metals. His practice responds to life events and is guided by materials and objects that have already had a life. Their previous existence increases their preciousness to Stofer, who uses these elements as a catalyst for creating work that is a marker of his life but that also allows space to tell another story.

    For his most recent exhibition, Bloomin’ Jewels at CAA London, Stofer has submitted a mix of new and existing work: 'I have always felt that everything that I do and make is part of creating a very personal biographical garden where each object, action and reaction, thought and impulse would help in time expand an already rich and diverse creative landscape. It is a landscape that helps me to better understand who I am and who I want to be. It is important to me that my biographical garden of things allows enough space for others to take what they need from my little plot of land to create, nurture and expand their own emotional and spiritual gardens that are essential for us to grow and find solace as human beings.'

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  • External collaborations

  • Gallery MARZEE and Gallery SO (since 2003) have been a key supporter of Professor Hans Stofer’s work and collaborations with the galleries go back a long time. Stofer has also worked with the jewellery department of Professor Otto Kuenzi at Munich Academy of Fine Art; the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich; Hiko Mizuno College of Jewellery; and Schenkar University for Design and Engineering in Tel Aviv. He has also served as an external examiner at School of Applied Arts in Geneva.

  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Exhibitions

    The Future of Fixing, The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design, Asheville, North Carolina, 2017

    Nature Morte, The National Museum, Wroclaw, Poland, 2017

    The Thing With Maltasingh, Gallery SO, London, 2016

    Donnerwetter, Im Zehenstadel, Beratzhausen, Germany, 2016

    Keeping Busy, Gallery SO, Switzerland, 2015

    String Theory, Gallery SO, London, 2014

    Makers Library, V&A/British Council, Design Guild South Africa

    Fixed World, Lodz Design Festival, Lodz, Poland, 2014

    Meister der Moderne, Schmuck, Munich, 2013

    Design Bijou Suisse, Foundation Suisse Le Corbusier, Paris, 2013

    Beautiful Object, ARAM Gallery London, 2012-13

    The Nature of Things, New Art Centre, Roche Court, 2012

    Causing Chaos catalogue, 2010

    Collect 08, Crafts Council catalogue

    Collect 2010 catalogue

    Desirable Objects for Undesirable Subjects catalogue

    GHM Gesellschaft fuer Handwersmessen mbH, Herbert Hofmann Award 19732008

    HorlandKunstsenter Retrospektivekatalog 2009 catalogue

    Jerwood Charitable Foundation 2008, ‘JCMakers 2 in Conversation’

    The MARZEE Collection catalogue

    Review of Straw Dogs, Crafts Magazine, no. 225, July/August 2010

    Review of Walk the Line, Crafts Magazine, no. 224, May/June 2010

    ‘Schmuck 2008’, Handwerksmesse Munich catalogue

    ‘Werkspuren’, Inspiration, no. 112, April 2008, Fachzeitschrift fuer Gestaltung

    Selected Publications

    Unexpected Pleasures, Catalogue; Edited by Susan Cohn

    Ceramic Review, Thinking Objects Review; Issue 254 March/April 2012

    On Jewellery, A Compendium of Contemporary Jewellery, Lisbeth den Besten

    Thing, Tang, Trash, Catalogue; Edited by Jorunn Veiteberg

    Ceramique Contemporaine, Catalogue, MUDAC; Musee De Design Et d'Arts Applique Contemporaine

    Currency, Think Tank Publications

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Selected work


Research interests

In the process of thinking and developing some of the ideas outlined in his research remission proposal, Professor Hans Stofer realised that in order to move beyond an established way of working and to establish an expanded understanding of object culture, he needed to radically change his approach and attitude of making and presenting ideas.

It was essential to move away from the single-autonomous-object-making-model to a more holistic-Gesamtkunstwerk-and-all-embracing-over-a-long-time-evolving one. It needed to define ‘a space where art met design’ – in which key issues of the human condition can be explored to develop propositions with potentially wider implications.

Current and recent research

Curating Jerwood Contemporary Makers 3

Jerwood Space, London
May 2010

Jerwood Contemporary Makers is the Jerwood Charitable Foundation’s new initiative to support the applied arts and encourage new and stimulating ways of showing work across a range of disciplines. It replaces the Jerwood Applied Arts Prize, which was run in partnership with the Crafts Council for 11 years.

This exhibition – for which Stofer acted as researcher and curator – was the last of three events started three years ago. The series aimed to showcase work by a new generation of contemporary makers in a fresh and unexpected way. Each exhibitor was awarded a share of £30,000 and the makers were shortlisted on evidence provided in their portfolio, studio visits, project proposals, briefs, etc.

Walk the Line

Gallery SO, London
12 March – 17 May 2010

As designer, maker and exhibitor for Walk the Line, Professor Hans Stofer’s focused on the exploration and establishment of the parameters at the threshold between art and design. He constructed a corridor through which visitors had to pass in order to enter his world of pieces that ‘walk the line’ between oppositional poles: familiarity and alienation, sanity and insanity, beauty and monstrousness. Having produced work, the exhibition, seminars and reviews for this project, Stofer ‘urges us to look at the exuberant possibilities arising out of a palimpsest concept of art and design’.

Tinkering with Paint

Galerie SO, Solothurn, Switzerland
November–December 2009

For this exhibition, Hans Stofer’s research focused on the redesign of artists’ tools and implements, bringing them into the twenty-first century and using them as ‘re-connectors’.


Galerie Rosemarie Jäger, Hochheim am Main, Germany
13 September – 11 October 2009

Collaborating with Simone ten Hompel and David Clarke, in this exhibition Hans Stofer further developed his Off My Trolley approach, but to extend the remit of ART applied to ART applied as ‘re-connector’. This exhibition involved researching Friedrich Froebel’s theories and teaching practices and produced a catalogue.

Off My Trolley

Collect at Saatchi Gallery, London; represented by Galerie SO
15–17 May 2009 

This body of work developed over one year concludes Hans Stofer’s investigation and preoccupation with materials and objects, in particular mundane ones, and their potential as carriers for meaning and purpose. At the same time it has established the platform for exploring things from the ‘other side of the coin’.

During the development of Off My Trolley (for which he was both exhibitor and assistant) it occurred to Stofer that what he had been trying to do falls between categories – being neither applied art, nor design, nor fine art.

Off my Trolley is ART applied. It is ART that can be applied and used, and while used will help the user to get a better understanding of the make-up and materiality of it, it revert back to its ART status when not used anymore.

Indian Rat Traps

This is an ongoing project started in 2007 and is in the latter stages of completion. This publication is a study of a small selection of Indian rats from the collection of co-author Tony Hayward. The publication is part of an ongoing series of booklets about design objects made by craftsmen in India in response to everyday needs, and which have been made resourcefully using limited technical and material resources.

Much has been written about these types of objects, which is why Hans Stofer decided to approach the subject from their purpose point of view. The focus in his text is from the perspective of the rat.

Consulted research source material included existing historical and scientific literature on rats and rodents; rodent reports; and conversations with rodent experts to gain a better understanding of the history, habitat, behaviour and social status of rats within Western and Eastern society.


Research students