Balloons are familiar and loved objects, but few people realize that with some amateur kitchen chemistry techniques, the process for manufacturing them can be replicated on a small scale. Product designers Caroline Linder, Lisa Smith, Michael Savona, Thomas Moran, and Steven Haulenbeek—all members of design collective Object Design League—-aimed to demystify and illustrate each step of this process with their Balloon Factory on-site at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago from July 5th through 10th. Freshly-made balloons were available in limited numbers from the MCA Store for the duration of the event.

“Balloon Factory” functions as a workspace and spectacle at once. Through it, the Object Design League explores methods of producing objects for consumption in a direct way, collapsing fabrication, distribution and purchasing into one space. The designers are replicating a hidden manufacturing process, but more importantly, taking ownership of it. By making a product by hand that is only known to be made industrially, they locate their practice on the fringes of mass production.

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