Plump, plush and – for want of a better word – squishy fittings have dominated homes and Instagram feeds alike since the 1970s design revival began approximately two years ago. Vogue anointed puffy furniture “2021’s most delightful home trend” last May, while the New York Times offered up the pervasiveness of squidgy couches, chairs and poufs as akin to the pandemic-induced sweatpant craze of 2020. A velvet ’70s armchair by Tobia and Afra Scarpa – “the Soriana” – can set you as far back as £6,461 (around $7,800), while a perfectly rendered doughnut pouf by New Zealand designer Sabine Marcelis costs €1,599 ($1,640).
But while Scarpa and Marcelis’ creations encourage a soft, sinking, seating experience, there’s one designer turning the bubble trend on its head. South Korean artist, Seungjin Yang, makes candy-colored, bulbous chairs, stools and benches with a twist – his pieces are made out of actual blow-up balloons. Since graduating in 2013 from Hongik University in Seoul, Yang’s main design endeavor has been fashioning sturdy, structurally sound furniture from the rubber party favors.
Each furnishing takes around two weeks to create, and Yang says they “cannot be burst” thanks to a special coating of epoxy resin. “My work is glossy when it’s completed,” Yang told CNN over email. “Some people think (the finished product) won’t be hard, but it is hard.”
Balloons are inflated and then molded into various shapes to form each part of the design. For example, a stool has 3 “legs” and a longer balloon is made into a spiral shape for the seat. Colored resin is applied in layers; with more coats needed in order to make the delicate material strong enough to carry weight. Once all the elements are dry and solid, the furniture is assembled and dipped into the resin one final time.