In 1995 Nick Crosbie founded a design and production company called Inflate. This brand became the vehicle of an evolution of his ideas over the next 21 years which saw him initially designing and producing small household products, then developing trade shows and ultimately large outdoor event structures. The common thread through all these designs was inflatable technology. By the end of the 1990’s, there was a clear vision to create Inflate buildings.
2004: The Office in a Bucket (OIAB) was designed in direct response to a growing demand for office break out spaces and chill pods. The simple yet effective OIAB provided the foundation to the first range of popup event products which, in turn, laid out a flight path to our event hire business.
2005: We continued to develop and extend the range of smaller lightweight popup event structures with wall systems and the original Luna bar structures. The OIAB also won the D&AD award this year. The lite range was in turn now available to buy and hire on an ad hoc basis.
We experimented with some smaller outdoor Pop Up event spaces with the rental options in mind. The Baby Turtle was developed as part of a research sample for a larger event structure. We liked the form and the way it subverted the perceived look of inflatable form. This product became the basis of which we developed the Turtle GT range from.
We extended the range of outdoor structures in 2007 and invested in launching multiple domes and the huge Trident with a fully self-supporting airflow span up to 27m. The option to rent original Inflate structures opened our company up to more projects where there was not the option to purchase. The originality of our products gave clients and brands something special from a rental perspective.
In 2006, we formally recognised our Event Hire business alongside the design and production element of the company. Thus began the strategy to develop structures aimed for rental market. The initial products were focused around extending the range of the Lite PopUp structures, as well as larger outside structures. These larger outdoor structures were usually developed in direct response to client demands, such as the first 12m Cube.
With a growing stock holding, we opened up a storage and distribution Centre outside London in Norfolk, which allowed us to service the whole of the UK. This also acted as the basis for sale distribution. This increased stock allowed us to offer multiple structures for large scale events. We could now offer Inflate World, which could be set up in less than a day.
In 2009 the rental business started to flourish with 90% of structure enquires now coming in for hire. Our investment in new stock matched the design and production side of the business’ ability to keep the ideas and products fresh. Our hire side was growing to offer an all round event service business aimed at providing peace of mind for clients wanting to use unusual structures. We were seeing more demand from mainland Europe and decided we wanted to combine all the elements of the business together in one space. This year we also started to embrace the idea of a franchise partnership system to develop more rental outlets for our products.
In 2011 we moved into warehouse and offices in Kent. This allowed us to be closer to the Channel Crossing and combine all our services in one space. This year we launched the 20m domes, which had a more architectural response to the structural design. We also worked on new details for ballasting designs to minimise shipping costs and sealed air beams to increase the security of the Inflate structures. The year of the London Olympics, we proudly delivered our first AirClad rental structure for the British Government. Later this year, we realised that the Event Hire business really was going to need its own focus and premises to operate and grow further.
In 2013 we opened a larger warehouse in Penrith, which has become our Aladdin’s cave of all things wonderful and air-filled.With over 200 structures in stock, we have an answer for anything our clients may need. We introduced furniture, lighting, flooring, trussing and other items to our structures, which allow events to stand out. We rebranded this business as Inflate Works to recognise the fact that this is more than just a rental business.
The demand in AirClad structures saw Inflate Works invest in the first of these in the UK, thus extending our structure offer from Inflate to a more semi-permanent, high-end event space, which crosses all boundaries of what we now call #fastarchitecture. The AirClad and Inflate compliment each other, giving clients the option to get the perfect match to their needs.
Inflate Works was instrumental in the delivery of the brand new Snoozy, developed by Opblaasbaar, its sister design company in Belgium. 26 back-to-back events, with up to 210 Snoozy mobile hotel rooms (being operated by SnoozeBox PLC), happened in just a few months. They were seen at major UK events, such as Glastonbury, Isle of Man TT, and Silverstone Grand Prix. They were also featured at Spa in Belgium. This year we launched the first AirClad double-height structure called the XIP, in Berlin. Now the roadmap for the hire was set out, certainly beyond expectation.
Inflate Works now offers global services and is developing the franchises with the right partners. Our stock holding continues to grow with the addition of more AirClad structures. Our own Snoozy Accommodation pods are available from the third quarter of 2016. Inflate Works offers a full sales and service facility to clients, to take all the hassle out of structure ownership. We manage and store clients’ own structures, and in some cases Inflate Works will also co-invest.