Up and Away With Cool Balloons
Balloons are symbols of joy. Think about it: when you go to the carnival, there are balloons. When it's your birthday, there are balloons. It's just not a party without a bunch of balloons to mark the occasion. There are several whole festivals dedicated to hot air balloons. And of course let's not forget the most famous balloon of all: the Red Balloon, who brought companionship to a lonely little boy in Albert Lamorisse's landmark short film.
Many artists have used balloons to inspire their projects and new designs. Above you see Marseille-based artist Olivier Grossetête's Pont Suspendu, an installation that suspended a delicate bridge from three large balloons.
Here's another floating bridge by the same artist as it looked when installed in the Japanese Garden in England for the Tatton Park Biennial (the theme was "flight".)
Another art piece featuring balloons, this installation by New York and Amsterdam studio yesyesno was placed along Hadrian's Wall in the north of England. The balloons transmitted messages to each other (generated by real people via the Internet) through the use of color and light.
Dutch artist Lucas Maassen used hot air balloons to "interrupt" the urban skyline of Eindhoven. The balloon can be taken to symbolize a setting or rising sun, or even an urban biodome. In any case, it was probably a big surprise to office workers when they looked out their window to see a colorful balloon bobbing between the buildings!
Check out this vintage billboard advertising hot air balloons as the travel method of the future. Seem a bit far-fetched? What about a floating cloud?
It may one day exist! The Passing Cloud concept by Tiago Barros is just such a concept. The idea is that "passengers" would board the balloon via ladder and be floated to a destination by high-speed winds. What destination? Only the wind knows.
The way it works is simple: the kit comes with a helium balloon, lightweight digicam, and a reel that attaches to the camera, much like a spool of string attaches to a kite. Inflate the balloon, attach the camera to your spool, and start taking snaps from above.
Balloons add whimsy to the most functional of objects. This bench, by Satoshi Itasaka, appears to be held up by two bunches of balloons but in reality is suspended from the ceiling with invisible wire. The toddler in this photo is just as impressed as we are.
If you're looking for something a little more abstract, check out these balloon-like lamps from Japanese designers Nendo. They're made out of agricultural netting that has been heated until it can be molded into elegant home furnishings.
Finally, here's a balloon that seems thoroughly weighed down: Leviathan, a sculptural orb by artist Anish Kapoor installed in the Grand Palais in Paris in 2011.
The artist described his intent as "to create a space within a space that responds to the height and luminosity of the Nave at the Grand Palais." At the very least the sculpture proves that even though we may be earthbound, through the smart use of design and art, we can still feel lighter than air.
So if you're ever feeling down, just buy yourself a bunch of balloons. You never know what flight of fancy they may take you on.