When a mail inquiry popped up on his monitor from Satyajit Das, founder of the design studio Architecture Social Club, Luke Tanner, Commercial and Marketing Coordinator at ebm-papst UK in Chelmsford, had to pinch himself. The designer was looking for fans suitable for installing in a pig.
The pig was to be an artwork accompanying the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Pink Floyd exhibition and honoring the band’s 1977 album “Animals,” on which a flying pig is portrayed against the backdrop of the smokestacks of London’s Battersea Power Station. The museum had asked several international artists to design works for various locations in London.
“I’m a Pink Floyd fan myself; their music is pretty unique,” says Tanner. So that made this a special project, but not only for him. The artist’s idea was to present a breathing pig installation. The breathing effect was to be achieved by inflating and deflating 450 pink balloons. For that he needed the right fans.
The challenges: noise, air performance, material – and time
So Tanner got the technical team on board. “Finding the right fan was a real challenge.” It had to be quiet enough to be inaudible when inflating and deflating, and the air performance had to be just right to make the breathing effect come off well. “The artist hadn’t specified the material for the balloons, so in the end we began to test different materials with different fans to perfect the effect,” says Tanner.
“Time was a real problem with this project. The pig was supposed to be designed and built within six weeks!”
Luke Tanner, Commercial and Marketing Coordinator at ebm-papst UK
Since the air had to be blown in and sucked out, the team first thought about a solution with reversible direction of rotation, but that couldn’t be delivered in the limited time frame. “Time was a real problem with this project. The pig was supposed to be designed and built within six weeks!” The team decided on a solution with 900 axial fans in adjoining pairs. The distributor RS Components helped source the fans.
A new home for the pig
The pig was completed in time for display in a London department store. With the success of this project ebm-papst are now anticipating the artist will find a new venue to exhibit the sculpture. “The best place would be at Battersea Power Station, where the album cover was made,” hopes Tanner.