UK: Alan Parkinson, founder of Nottingham-based Architects of Air, has produced a book chronicling the history of the company, entitled ‘The Most Beautiful’. ‘The Most Beautiful’ charts the story of Architects of Air’s wondrous ‘luminaria’, the monumental ephemeral sculptures that have wowed millions of visitors around the world, at festivals including Budapest’s Sziget, Milton Keynes International Festival, and Brisbane Festival. Just as an aquarium holds water, a luminarium is a vessel that holds light. Sumptuous full-colour photographs capture the wonder that the luminaria inspire, and a comprehensive technical section guides the reader through the creation of these unique works.
The Most Beautiful takes its title from the 13th century physicist and theologian, Robert Grosseteste, who said: “Physical light is the most beautiful of all the bodies that exist”. By entering a luminarium, visitors experience an encounter of this most fundamental of phenomena: light.
Alan Parkinson first started exploring pneumatics in the early 1980’s, founding Architects of Air in 1992. Since then the company has built 21 luminaria, and over 3 million visitors in 40+ countries around the world have immersed themselves into the luminous world of Architects of Air. Each structure is handmade and experiments with the blend of colours, of reflected and direct light, with the simple intention of transporting visitors into another world and creating a sense of wonder at the beauty of light and colour.
The book takes the reader on a journey, from its beginnings as a community project to its worldwide presence today, demonstrating the connection people have with the structures. There are detailed explanations of each luminarium, covering design, plans, and inspiration, alongside quotes and many photographs taken by both visitors and professionals.
“I design luminaria because I want to share my sense of the beauty of light,” said Parkinson. “Drawing on inspiration from natural, geometric or architectural structures, these huge pneumatic environments are a meeting ground for generations and cultures and I hope the book goes some way to give a sense of the wonder people feel when entering.”