• Luft Balloons Breathes New Air Into a Tired Event Décor Element

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    FROM THE Fall 2018 ISSUE
     

If the thought of balloons conjures images of lopsided prom arches, cheesy wedding centerpieces or a child’s birthday party, you’re not alone. However, a Chicago company is reinventing what it means to incorporate these inflatables into events.

Two years ago, attempting to create a balloon centerpiece to replace the standard flowers for a dinner party, Elaine Frei realized it was nearly impossible to find unique colors that matched the event’s theme, even after spending more than $200. 

“I thought, there is a void here,” says Frei, a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, who subsequently launched Luft Balloons. “People love good color selections, so this was a design opportunity.”

Frei calls her creations balloon art, crafting pieces such as columns, arches, wall attachments and even a few that take up the entirety of a space. She’s designed balloon art for birthdays, corporate events, galas, window displays, weddings and more. These are not just bunches of balloons tied together; they’re pieces that can take up an entire space and truly elevate an event. 

“Balloons transcend everything,” says Frei. “You can do anything with them.”

One such piece was for Soul City Church in Chicago, a creation Frei says was one of her favorites. The church was opening a new space for its anniversary and was looking for a new way to christen it. Frei’s team woke up at 5 a.m. on the morning of the celebration to install a giant gold, white and blush piece outside the building, as well as one inside.

“It sounds cliché, but it was ethereal, being in a spiritual place,” says Frei.

Other installations include a celebration for the Nike Air Society in Chicago, Macy’s spring fashion show, an event at Eataly and a celebration at the BHLDN in Houston. 

The installations can serve as great backdrops for a step-and-repeat, a grand entrance and, of course, an Instagram moment. Each of Frei’s installations is designed specifically to fit your event’s space. 

“That’s what sets us apart,” says Frei. “We don’t offer off-the-shelf ideas. It all comes down to what you’re trying to do in the space and what you’re trying to [make guests] feel.” 

Chicago hospitality collective 16” on Center partners with local businesses to turn everything from bars to theaters into serviceable event venues. Founding partners Bruce Finkelman and Craig Golden have transformed 14 businesses (like Bite Café, Dusek’s Board & Beer, MONEYGUN, The Promontory, Thalia Hall and more) and have provided a single point of contact for event planners interested in utilizing these spaces as venues. 

 

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