Inflate is creatively directed by Nick Crosbie from their studio workshop in Antwerp. There he continues to run the inflatable design consultancy, developing everything from small products to architectural-scale, engineered structures.
“Inflate didn’t start life trying to become a brand. It was the name and the approach to graphic design which started things. The name Inflate came from a TV project I did whilst at college. I didn't want to have a company named after a person as I felt this restricted the opportunities for others to commit design-wise, as they would always think they were working for you. The name was decided upon, and Mark and Mike Sodeau and I set up Inflate in 1995.
It was one day when I was working on my major project at the RCA that I had found some left over scraps of PVC and decided to put a valve in. When inflated they started to suggest the form of a fruit bowl. I cut up a load more scrap PVC in different colours and made the complete object. It worked very well, and thus the first real product was complete.
Initially I drew things and tried to make them work. But the process of getting on the welder and sometimes making a mistake and then inflating it was more interesting. You’d discover things. Little secrets about the material. No matter how much time you spend drawing, you’ll never discover this. It’s about practical experience. It's important to recognise when an idea should not be forced. It's better not to develop than develop something which is wrong.
Whilst at college I designed some more products after the fruit bowl, namely a picture frame and wine rack. The picture frame had come about one evening as part of a bet to come up with and make a product in five minutes. I knew what I was going to do as soon as I started for the welder. I was detailing the design as I was cutting and preparing the material. It is all in the preparation. I say this to everyone who joins the studio. This is the art.”
Extracts from ‘ I’ll Keep Thinking ’ by Nick Crosbie