When people think of balloon art, they usually think of children’s entertainers at birthday parties, or else they’ll picture one of Jeff Koons’ chromatic balloon creatures. Only rarely will someone think of furniture. South Korean designer Seungjin Yang did. Since 2013 he’s been perfecting his Blowing series, a collection of colorful and glossy chairs, stools, and benches that look exactly like balloon art—and, in essence, that’s what they are.
提起气球艺术，人们通常会想到生日派对上的气球小丑，或是美国艺术家 Jeff Koons 的彩色气球动物雕塑，但很少人会想到使用气球来做家具。2013 年以来，韩国设计师 Seungjin Yang 一直专注于《Blowing》系列，整个系列围绕各式各样的椅子，它们缤纷怡人，统统用气球打造完成。
Yang makes everything using various brands of ordinary party balloons he picks right off the shelf. You can try, but it’s impossible to pop any of his pieces. In fact, they’re so resistant that you can take a seat and lean your entire body weight on them without risking them bursting loudly underneath you.
What seems like a magic trick is the result of a eureka moment that came as he experimented with combining unusual materials and shapes. “I was experimenting with epoxy, and then I thought of how interesting it would be to apply it to a balloon. I knew it would still keep its rounded shape,” he says. Epoxy resin is a substance that’s first highly viscous but solidifies itself, taking the appearance of glass. Therefore, as Yang discovered, it makes up the perfect material to create a hard coating that can prevent balloons from bursting.
Seungjin Yang 的创作原料都来自商店货架上各类品牌的普通派对气球。但与日常气球用途不同，他的作品你甚至可以完全坐下，将全身重量靠在上面，也不用担心爆裂的状况。因而对材质的坚固度很有讲究。
这些看似不可思议的气球家具，是他在尝试组合不同材料创作中的灵光乍现。他回忆道：“当时在考虑使用环氧树脂进行创作，如果把它用到气球上会很有趣，能保持气球圆润的形状。”环氧树脂具有高粘度，但也会自行固化，最终呈现出玻璃般的外观。这正是 Seungjin Yang 心中的理想材料，非常适合用作防止气球破裂的硬涂层。
Balloons, in turn, are flexible and easy to manipulate, which makes them particularly sculptural, and their fundamental qualities, especially their transparency and hollowness, enable exciting visual possibilities. However, these same traits make it very challenging to use them as raw materials for anything durable; they can easily burst, not to mention they’ll inevitably deflate with time.
One of Yang’s motivations for his Blowing series was precisely to turn these challenges around and create something entirely new and unexpected. By combining latex balloons with epoxy, he knew he could. “The unexpected interests people,” he says, before adding, “I think I turned this imperfect material into something sustainable for design.”
Seungjin Yang 创作《Blowing》系列的动机之一，正是为了克服这些挑战，创造出新颖独特、出人意料的作品。他相信，乳胶气球与环氧树脂的结合可以做到这一点。“人们都喜欢意想不到的事物，”他接着补充道，“我想让这种不完美的材料变成了一种可持续的设计。”
Born in 1986, Yang grew up in Hongcheon County. He has enjoyed building things with his own hands ever since he can remember. Admittedly, though, his models were far more intricate than anything a regular child would create. Later, studying at the department of Metal Art and Design of Hongik University in Seoul, he had an unparalleled opportunity to make a career out of his passion. He not only experimented with the most varied types of materials but also studied their fundamental properties, following the institution’s purpose to open possibilities in the design field.
Seungjin Yang 出生于 1986年，从小在洪川郡长大。在他很小的时候，就喜欢摆弄各式各样的模型，而他做的模型往往比很多同龄小孩的模型复杂得多。后来，他进入了首尔弘益大学金属艺术与设计系，得以将自己的兴趣变成事业。他不仅喜欢尝试各种不同类型的材料，还会研究材料的基本特性，延续其母校关于在设计领域开拓创新的宗旨。
Creating his furniture pieces requires exquisite yet relatively simple craftsmanship. It all starts with him making simple sketches on a pad. They give him the visual representations he needs to know the number of parts for each piece, and their rough sizes and shapes. With the help of an air machine, he then blows up latex balloons to form such parts.
Yang then coats the blown balloons with a layer of epoxy resin, which can be pigmented or not. After this first coating layer, he lets the balloons dry in his studio, for about seven hours. Hanging there like (colorful) sausages in a butcher shop, they could be mistaken for an art installation.
Still, the process continues. Making one piece of furniture usually takes up to two weeks. That’s because he needs to repeat the coating technique seven to eight times until he reaches a consistency that’s hard enough to support the weight of an adult. The more layers he applies, the more resistant the piece will be.
Once the balloon parts are hard enough, he polishes out the dried epoxy drips to give them a smooth surface. He then assembles and glues them together, creating a functional piece. Finally, he applies a final coat of epoxy to reinforce the structure and give it a sense of unity. Yang adds no screws, joineries, or adornments to his pieces. He likes to keep their minimal aspect, just like balloon art.
接着，Seungjin Yang 会在吹好的气球上涂上一层着色或无色的环氧树脂。涂完第一层之后，他会将气球进行干燥处理，像肉店里（五颜六色的）香肠一样挂起来，一般持续大约七个小时。乍看下，就像是气球装置艺术现场。
创作的最后一步，是涂上环氧树脂，加固整个结构，让整个作品看起来更统一。Seungjin Yang 的作品没有任何装饰物，他喜欢保持最简约的外观，让作品本身保留了原有的气球模样。
That’s not to say he doesn’t aim to create something visually striking. His furniture pieces come in different levels of transparency, translucency, and opacity, and it’s fascinating to see how they’re indeed empty on the inside. Such an effect delivers a sensation of fragility, and the overlapping of different translucent parts results in new shades and hues, adding to the visual impact of each piece.
Knowing bold colors are usually appealing to most people, Yang doesn’t shy away from bright reds, deep royal blues, or even pitch-blacks. He also likes to mix the most unexpected combinations, including fluorescent pinks, greens, and yellows, to achieve the ultimate “wow” effect. Beyond bright colors, the glossiness of Yang’s pieces never fails to evoke that inner child in all of us who’s fascinated by shiny things.
Seungjin Yang 知道对大多数人来说，大胆的颜色往往更有吸引力。他还喜欢搭配出人意料的色彩组合，比如荧光粉色、绿色和黄色，以达到令人眼前一亮的效果。除了鲜艳的色彩，作品外形与表面的光泽和梦幻，也会唤起人们内心着迷于闪亮事物的童真。
His designs are a source of curiosity for children and adults alike. Anyone who lays eyes on them will instantly wonder what they’re made of. Most people think they’re heavy and made of glass and assume they also break easily. That’s not the case at all. “My chairs are very strong, like any other chairs. They can support up to one hundred kilos,” Yang assures. “They’re also more comfortable than they look. Of course, it’s not like sitting on a cushion, but I still think I made them pretty comfortable.”
Yang’s playful signature style didn’t go unnoticed even in more classical design circles. In 2021, Maison Dior invited him to reimagine the elegant Louis XVI Medallion Chair that has traditionally been used in its runway shows. It was a special commission to be exhibited at the Salone Del Mobile in Milan, together with works by Ma Yansong, Tokujin Yoshioka, and other prominent designers from all around the world. His version had white matted balloons filling the chair’s iconic oval shaped backrest.
无论大人、小孩，看到他的作品，也许都会好奇知道它们由什么材料制成。大多数人都会以为它们很重，由玻璃制成，或者觉得它们也很容易破裂。而事实并非如此。“我的椅子和其他椅子一样，非常坚固。它们可以承重一百公斤，”Seungjin Yang 说道，“而且它们坐上去比看起来舒服。”
Seungjin Yang 趣意十足的设计同样引起了经典设计领域的关注。2021年，Dior 邀请他重新设计品牌时装秀上的路易十六式椭圆型靠背椅。这是一次特别的委托，椅子会在米兰国际家具展上，与马岩松、吉冈德仁等世界著名设计师的作品一起展出。最终他用白色哑光气球填充了椅子标志性的椭圆形靠背，将个人风格拉满。
Although he admits liking the fact that taking a seat on one of his pieces for the first time can be a little unsettling, Yang says there’s no metaphor behind his work and no deep meaning stemming from the fact that he transforms fragile objects into solid and durable ones. He goes as far as refusing the assumption that what he creates is even art. His philosophy is much more straightforward: to create minimal and practical furniture.
To him, his work process can be thought of as a slightly more elaborate form of child’s play. “My process when creating a new piece is like when we play with toys as kids. It’s like playing with Lego, except that the shape of the balloon is very natural and rounded, which allows me to create nice chairs,” he says. Whether a chair, bench, or stool, Yang’s designs will undoubtedly stir up any decor with a good dose of playfulness and glossiness. In the end, that’s precisely his goal: he wants people to see them and feel like a child looking at a balloon.
Seungjin Yang 为人们第一次坐上他的作品时那种忐忑不安而暗自开心，但也表示，自己的作品并没有什么特别的隐喻，也不存在什么由易碎物体转化为坚固物体所引申的深刻寓意。他甚至拒绝将自己的椅子定义为艺术品。他的想法很简单直接：创造简约实用的家具。
对他来说，创作的过程只是更为精致复杂的儿童游戏，他说：“我在创作新作品时，就像小时候玩玩具一样。和玩乐高积木差不多，只不过气球的形状更自然和圆润，这样我可以制作出比较漂亮的椅子。”无论是摆放在怎样的环境中，Seungjin Yang 所设计的椅子、长凳或凳子都可以给空间增添趣意与亮眼的光泽。而这正是他的目标：他希望人们看到这些家具时，会变成看见气球的小孩。