Spotted at Ambiente: The Rise of Balloon-Inspired Designs

March 14, 2015 by

artinthecity-balloon-dog-candyArt in the City’s 16 inch balloon dog figurines.

On my recent trip to the Ambiente design fair, I spotted some balloon-inspired designs–furniture and objects which brought back fond memories of those iconic balloon sculptures of my childhood. Looks like the range of these products is expanding in the design and art worlds.

dolly-fatboy-urbangardenswebHot Dog and Dolly by Fatboy. Photo via Fatboy.

From balloon-dog seating, home accessories, and edibles, to furniture using actual balloons in the creation process, here are some of my favorites of the lot:

New Breeds of Seating
I felt a little puppy love when I saw Fatboy’s“Dolly” and “Hot Dog” inflatable seating unleashed from their new Sjef Balloon collection.

dog-bench-light-gray_urbangardensweb-ambiente2015Photo: Robin Plaskoff Horton

These pooches brought a smile to my face, not to mention a much-needed spot to rest my weary feet after hours of non-stop walking.


Fatboy’s four-legged pieces are happy indoors or out, as art objects or for lounging, and they don’t require walking or feeding (just air.)  


Hot Dog, the dachshund above, can seat two on his back, but you’d have to coax him to roll over. Dolly and Hot dog available at Lumens.

Above and Beyond Simple Balloon Sculptures
Other designers, such as Marcel Wanders, Hester Oelermans, and Niels Schuurmans have interpreted balloon shapes into their furniture designs.

wanders_carbon_balloon_chair_gold_urbangardenswebCarbon Balloon Chair, Marcel Wanders. Photo via designer.

Wanders’s Carbon Balloon Chair, above, is made by hand using balloons filled with compressed air which acquire their final shape after an application of epoxy resin.

oelerman-balloon-chair-orangeHester Oelermans’s balloon chair.

niels_schuurman_balloon_furnitureNiels Schuurmans’s balloon furniture collection.

Ain’t Nothin’ But a Balloon Dog.

balloon_dog_IMS_bookendsDoggie Bookends by IMM Design.

balloon-doggy_bankPoochie Bank, $44.77 at Amazon.

Naked-Decor-Doxie-Red-Balloon-dog-Pillow-allmodern-urabngardenswebDoxie Red Balloon Pillows, $49.95 at Wayfair.

BALLOON-ANIMAL-cookie_cutter_urbangardenswebCookie Cutter, $19.99 at Ecrandal.

jelly_mould_notonthehighstreet_urbangardenswebParty Pooch Jello Mold, $9 at Amazon.


balloon-dog-fabric-red-etsy-urbangardenswebBalloon Dog Fabric from Etsy.

dog_toy_amazonDoggy toy for doggies, $10.65 at Amazon.

Were these babies influenced by artist Jeff Koons’s balloon dog sculptures? He might claim so.

Jeff_Koons_Balloon_DogBalloon Dog, Jeff Koons

Koons sued San Francisco gallery and store, Park Life, claiming the $49 IMM Living balloon dog bookends they sold constituted an infringement on his intellectual property rights.


The legal test seems to be whether both works are based on an iconic object or image in the public domain and thus subject to free usage. “As virtually any clown can attest,” Park Life’s lawyer wrote to the court, “no one owns the idea of making a balloon dog, and the shape created by twisting a balloon into a dog-like form is part of the public domain.”

jeff-koons-H&M-purse-urbangardenswebH & M’s Koons purse: the brand sponsored the artist’s Whitney Museum of Art retrospective.

Chinese company, VLA Sculpture, hawks an inexpensive stainless steel knock-off on Alibaba making no excuses or references to Koons or anyone else. And on a wall in Ontario, Canada, famed street artist Bansky left his mark with an image (below) depicting a security guard with a pink balloon dog on a leash.


Ironically, Koons, whose balloon dog sculpture sold at Christie’s New York in 2013 for $58.4 million, has been scorned and sued by many for appropriating their designs and has had to pay up after losing several lawsuits.

So about his ownership of the balloon dog image, some would say Koons was barking up the wrong tree. You be the judge.



Note: While researching this, I found out that one can actually become a Certified Balloon Artist (CBA)–aka balloon sculptor, balloon bender, twister, and to elevate it to a science–a balloonologist. Before you decide to become certified, or certifiable depending how you view it, you might want to try your hand at twisting a balloon dog of your own. Here are the DIY instructions.

Unless otherwise noted, photos via designers and manufacturers. 

1 Comment »

  1. Tami Paris said:

    What are the balloon dog bench’s made of . ?

    — April 25, 2021 @ 23:34

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