Airstar Electrifies the Lyon Light Festival With the World’s Largest Lightbulb

Photo credit: Vincent Tim Photographies

FRANCE: Airstar, a world leader in lighting balloon technology for the event industry, recently unveiled ‘Incandescence’ at the Lyon Light Festival (December 5 – 8 2014), a temporary installation with giant inflatable LED lightbulbs of various shapes and sizes.

The 140 metre long lighting display marked the starting point for thousands of visitors at the world’s renowned light festival, which gathers international artists and professionals from the lighting industry. Incandescence is the combination of an industrial and artistic creation between lighting balloon manufacturer Airstar and local artist Séverine Fontaine (Compagnie IKB), in collaboration with Philips and SEET Europole. This artwork is a tribute to the origins of electical lighting, the root of Airstar’s business and raison d’être.

Airstar installed nine giant old-style bulbs (with the universal E27 cap) in an urban pond on the bank of the Rhône River, including a colossal ten metre high incandescent light bulb replica – arguably the biggest ever made in the world – which lit up whilst also driving eight other filament bulbs.

The entirely inflatable envelope (cap included) was made of technical polymer to perfectly mimic the glass of a bulb and to show the 2,000 RGBW LED light sources inside. Colour management of all bulbs was handled by Philips, who developed 20 different lighting loops, a production usually only seen for large scale installations such as the ones on Times Square or in Las Vegas.

All 2,000 LED sources were manually set by Airstar’s team, who had to manage three different pressure levels for the giant bulb (cap, body and bulb). Due to the positioning of the installation in water, the team wore protective suits whilst working with the bulbs, using sophisticated waterproof components.

Airstar’s Special Projects Department only had the benefit of three months to complete a project that was originally estimated as a year’s worth of development. Good communications between the different stakeholders – IKB for the design and Philips for some technical aspects – was decisive to achieve this result.

The Lyon Light Festival is of particular importance for Airstar to demonstrate their expertise in this field, as Pierre Chabert, Airstar CEO explained: “We regularly participate in this festival as a service provider for artists, as well as communication and design agencies. It is a must-attend event for the people in the lighting industry. Designers call in Airstar for tailor made projects such as Incandescence because they require our know-how.”