Airstar Provides After Dark Centrepiece for Festive Winter Experience

Lighting balloon technology expert, Airstar fabricated a custom luminous PVC moon to impress visitors at Chiswick House & Gardens Trust, James Wicks

The award-winning, Chiswick House, provided a canvas for an illuminating display where classical architecture met modern technology, thanks to Lighting Designer, Nick Gray from Renegade Design. Several art installations by Artist Finn Thomson also featured at the event, which was launched on 15 November and ran until 30 December 2018.

After Dark was a festive extravaganza like no other – which means there are no reindeer, fake snow or Santa Clauses in sight. Instead, the event organisers opted for vibrant light display that offered sleek, modern and classy experiences in a historical setting. One of the main attractions at After Dark was a 6m inflatable luminous moon, which was suspended outdoors between the trees and provided the ideal spot for photos and feasting.

Producer and Founder of After Dark, Sophie Lemm, said: “From the beginning, we wanted to work with Starlight Design. With their experience and prestigious client base, we knew we could rely on them to light the grounds. We also have a long-standing relationship with Renegade Design and have worked with Nick Gray on many fashion shows and live experiential events. Sumee Holloway, After Dark Founder, and our own Lighting Expert oversaw the whole process. We did our research and spoke with a few different companies before settling on Airstar, who we felt understood our idea very well, and engaged with us from the start in finding solutions for rigging and flying the moon.”

Once After Dark had approached Airstar about the specific brief for the moon – which included the balloon being seamless – it was then down to their experienced team to fabricate a number of prototypes in order to ascertain which combination of materials, light sources and rigging would work best.

Luke Baudouin, UK events Lighting Manager for Airstar, commented: “We made some small prototypes in nylon and PVC to see how pronounced the seams would be in different materials. The PVC solution was chosen in the end, it brought a great glossy finish and the seams were much less obvious. It’s the first time we’ve really worked with PVC material, particularly on a large outdoor project like this.”

The Airstar Pendulair balloon was fitted with a total of 24 12W, 4,000 Kelvin LED lamps, which were closest to cold white in a dimmable lamp. The LEDs were switched off during the day to save energy, though the lights and onboard fan were constantly powered and the balloon had an external pressure release valve. All of the exposed hardware was treated with a waterproof solution, so the rain didn’t interfere.

Despite the challenges, associated with the moon being suspended to the trees rather than to trusses and the unpredictable weather for the time of year, the client was extremely happy with the end result. “The Airstar moon has turned out to be one of our most popular installations,” Lemm enthused. “It’s beautifully lit and visitors can get up close and personal with it as well.”

Baudouin was equally pleased: “We’ve had great feedback on the balloon from the client as well as from visitors to Chiswick House. The project has also allowed us to go outside of what we usually do. It has given us a bigger portfolio of shapes, material and rigging innovations, and as a result, an offering that is even more comprehensive.”