We are still immersed in a summery atmosphere, but if I say “inflatable”, don’t just think of a dinghy or a life-saving goose. This gentle, pop art icon is still dominating the scene of art and design, where it inspires new typology of partitions and movable walls, too. After Inflatable Art it is time of Inflatable Interior Design.
A nomadic object par excellence, the inflatable is all the rage again, after the undisputed success it met with in the Sixties, when Andy Wharol, with his Silver Clouds, consecrated it as an art object and Jonathan De Pas, Donato D’Urbino and Paolo Lomazzi designed for Zanotta the arm-chair Blow, cult piece of furniture design; the “Air Art” never ceased to involve artists and enchant the public worldwide.
There are even dedicated websites like Inflatabill.com: air only, in art and design.
For a long time Jeff Koons’s plump animals or Paul McCarthy’s irreverent artworks have been highly rated pieces, that can be found in the most prestigious art collections. Already in 2007, the huge, naked self-portrait of Pawel Althamer circled above Milan, thanks to the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi and last October Tomás Saraceno’s installation at Hangar Bicocca in Milan aroused the enthusiasm of visitors patiently queuing up for hours just to tread on the huge, transparent bubble.
Very evocative is also Breath by Marc Quinn in front of the Palladian Basilica di San Giorgio in Venice on the occasion of the exhibition at Fondazione Giorgi Cini (collateral event of the Biennal Art of Venice until September 29th) This 11 meters inflatable sculpture is a replica of an actual statue of Alison Lapper presented in London for the Paralimpic Games.
Hong Kong, too, paid homage to Inflatable Art with “Mobile M+: Inflation!”, an amazing nomadic exhibition curated by M+, the new museum for visual culture in Hong Kong, as part of the West Kowloon Cultural District: the site (60,000 sqm) was occupyed from last April to June by six huge sculpture suggesting new ways the audiences might engage with it. The sacrilegious Stonehenge by Jeremy Deller (UK), the irreverent turd by Paul McCarthy (USA), the vital balls by Jiakun Architects (China) and other works by Cao Fei (China), Choi Jeong Hwa (South Korea), and Tam Wai Ping (Hong Kong).
This year, on the occasion of 100th anniversary of Arena di Verona, the brilliant direction by the Catalan group La Fura dels Baus has legitimized the inflatable in the opera world, as well, with the big and soft dunes rising on the tiers to the notes of the Aida.
It’s easy to close the gap between stage design and architecture. The New York based group AKAirways is focused on inflatable objects,sculpture and environments: they call it “performance-sculpture.”
A good example in interior design Made in Italy is given by Ibebi –a brand founded by the creativity of two brothers Andrea and Alberto Bebi- with its line Air, structures and mobile partitions to define rooms, territories and areas in a groundbreaking way.
Text by Renata Sias, editor of WOW! Webmagazine