Marcel Wanders wraps balloons in carbon
fibre to create lightweight chair


Carbon Balloon Chair by Marcel Wanders

Dutch designer Marcel Wanders has created an ultra-lightweight carbon fibre chair formed around party balloons.

Carbon Balloon Chair by Marcel Wanders

The Carbon Balloon Chair made its European debut at the opening of Marcel Wanders' retrospective exhibition at Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum, which opened last week.

Carbon Balloon Chair by Marcel Wanders

Weighing just 800 grams, the chair is handmade from party balloons filled with compressed air. The balloons are then wrapped in strips of carbon fibre and hardened with epoxy resin.

Carbon Balloon Chair by Marcel Wanders

The netting for the seat is made from a grid of carbon fibre that is also hardened with resin.

Carbon Balloon Chair by Marcel Wanders

"[The Carbon Balloon Chair] was conceived by Marcel as a challenge to all designers to create the world's lightest chair," said the studio. "Working with carbon is favoured by Marcel for its weight minimization possibilities. The chair requires fewer materials, generates less waste and is highly durable."

Carbon Balloon Chair by Marcel Wanders

The balloons are clearly visible in the design, which is reminiscent of the designer's breakthrough Knotted Chair, for which Wanders used epoxy resin to harden macramé thread used for the frame.

The Knotted Chair was a lightweight design, also hardened with resin, that marked Wanders' international breakthrough in 1996
The Knotted Chair was a lightweight design, also hardened with resin, that marked Wanders' international breakthrough in 1996

Marcel Wanders: Pinned Up at the Stedelijk comprises a collection of Wanders' work from the late 1980s to the present day. More than 400 objects are on display in the museum's new lower-level gallery space, including furniture, lamps, cutlery, wallpaper, packaging and jewellery. The show will run until 15 June 2014.

  • Michel D. > Balloon Furniture – A a bit of a shame from such a great designer? Or is it the lightness due to carbon use and thiner look / more balanced look that makes the real difference and allows the similarity? All kind of interpretations are welcome :)

    • Leiurus

      I think that the concept is different enough for not calling it a rip off. In Niels pieces, the ballons are filled with plastic, lightness / sturdyness is not the purpose, basically the concept stops at the balloons aesthetic. I find Wanders work much more interesting because it’s a wink at overly engineered “super light” pieces of furniture.

      • peter

        Niels’ pieces are made (in 2008) using the same technique: tubular braided fibre with balloons inside, hardened with resin. Not ‘filled with plastic.’ I don’t know where you got that information but it’s impossible to fill those balloons with anything but air.

        The only difference is Schuurmans’ pieces are twisted together in one go where Wanders’ piece consists of parts glued together.

        • Leiurus

          I got the info from Treehugger: “He took those long tubular balloons that clowns usually use for making balloon poodles and filled them with fibre reinforced polyester”. It is also absolutely possible to fill balloons with other things than air: polyurethane foam, water, basically any fluid that won’t break the membrane. Apologies if the info I gave is wrong, I haven’t seen Niels pieces by myself.

  • Gee – if Jeff Koons designed a chair, what would it look like? Seems like a waste of some good (expensive) material. Might also be called the ‘wienie chair’.

  • A.F.

    Looks like sausages…

  • Stophorous

    I kind’a like it, but carbon is so 2000.

  • Michel D.

    So, from what you explain there’s less difference between both designers than we could imagine, right? Not a copy, neither a coincidence. Thanks for the clarification.

    • peter

      I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not but I think ‘lightness’ is the purpose in Schuurmans’ work, both literally and figuratively speaking. That ‘wink’ you’re referring to I think was the whole point in his work.

  • Andy

    And by “balloons” he actually means condoms.

    • Michael Hudson

      It was actually made with balloons this piece.