Words The Kanto Team
Mylar balloons might be the last thing you would associate with a futuristic fashion show but for the creative minds behind Philippine creative consultancy Konzept.Konzept, these shiny, buoyant spheres (or prisms in this case) serve as the perfect vessels to convey their client’s desire to “startle and inspire.”
The clients: Ellis Co and Aya Reika of fashion brand .ARCHIVES, renowned for their sleek, androgynous looks and unconventional silhouettes, were set on unveiling their latest collection with futuristic flair. Their objective? To encapsulate “…the endless horizons that a visionary mindset could bring,” within the confines of a fashion show. While the new collection naturally takes center stage, the brand sought an experience that transcended conventional reveals – a thematic showcase that enveloped everything from mood, music, food, and most importantly, the venue. Joining forces with Konzept.Konzept creative director Jerome Lorico and Kenn Bosch, .ARCHIVES began their journey a full year ahead of the show, providing ample room for creativity to flourish without major compromises.
“Air is the primary material of the venue,” Bosch and Lorico explain. “Air symbolizes boundless freedom and endless possibilities. It possesses a fascinating duality – weightless yet potent. It’s invisible yet ever-present. This is what led us to consider balloons for the show, a receptacle that gives form to air.”
Although the concept seemed fittingly avant-garde for Co and Reika, there was initial skepticism regarding its practicality and viability. This led to the team refining their vision further, but still retaining the idea of balloons as building blocks. “What was great about them [Co and Reika] was their openness to suggestions and novel ideas; We knew they can take and appreciate them,” the duo adds. “This atmosphere of openness fueled the team to push our boundaries.”
The Konzept.Konzept team aimed to harness the impact of balloons on a grand scale. Initially, they considered an all-in-one inflatable venue, but the cost and complexity led them to adopt a modular approach, using individual balloons. Surprisingly, they only used a single type and shape of mylar balloon for the entire set. The partners clarify, “We managed to arrange everything almost perfectly by designing a frame with precise measurements tailored to the balloon size.”
For the balloon’s metallic finish and shape, Konzept.Konzept drew inspiration from futuristic tropes. The angular, reflective surfaces not only add depth and dimension to the space but also exude a surreal ambiance. The balloons’ reflective mylar skin ensures durability, a longer float time, and reduced bursting risks compared to regular latex balloons.
“Air symbolizes boundless freedom and endless possibilities. It possesses a fascinating duality – weightless yet potent. It’s invisible yet ever-present.”
The elongated prism-shaped balloons were attached to steel frames forming the two intersecting chambers of the ephemeral venue, which was mounted at the Midas Tent in Pasay City. The first circular chamber accommodated music and social activities, with inflatable seating surrounding a cylindrical projection screen. The second chamber housed the store, where guests could explore the collection and engage with the space, with the control booth, originally at the heart of the chamber, relocated backstage. In contrast with the balloons’ otherworldly sheen, the entire venue had a tactile, pitch-black rubber floor.
Logistics naturally posed a challenge for such an unorthodox setup. “Costs were high, and many elements couldn’t be sourced locally. We had no option but to look abroad, which also came with its own set of problems,” the studio partners recount. Entrusting their designs to foreign manufacturers raised concerns, even more so when their chosen supplier, for a time, began ignoring their messages. “It was nerve-wracking! But we had a contingency in place. Still, we are glad they eventually delivered!” Bosch and Lorico recall with a laugh.
When the balloons and prefabricated materials arrived, it was time to put the pieces together. The duo admitted that while they underestimated the amount of manpower required to put up all the moving parts, the venue was completed in time for the launch last July 28. The venue was designed to accommodate 300 people at any given time, though when the brand launched its collection, more than the allotted capacity turned up. Still, the Konzept.Konzept team’s nested chamber layout ensured the venue was not uncomfortably packed despite the crowds, ensuring that guests were spread out but also suitably entertained by the sights and scenes. Judging from the social media posts generated by the reveal, the two-day venue was a luminous success.
But in this day and age of climate change, what of the balloons post-show?
“All the balloons that were deflated and damaged were stored and are going to be reused for a future project that we cannot disclose yet. No mylar balloon from the space will end up in a dumping site soon,” The studio partners proclaim. “We are very conscious about this…Almost all the materials that we utilized for the show are reusable. From the balloons to the rubber mats to the inflatable couches. Even the frames that we used are going to be reconfigured for future builds.”
It was a ‘buoyant’ debut for the young creative consultancy and the Konzept.Konzept team is already raring for their next design challenge.
“We flourish with the right creative partners. Our goal is to design spaces that leave a lasting impression on our visitors, eliciting emotions and providing unmatched experiences.” Bosch and Lorico conclude. •