• Luft Balloons Breathes New Air Into a Tired Event Décor Element

    Float This Idea

    POSTED September 5, 2018

If the thought of balloons conjures images of lopsided prom arches, cheesy wedding centerpieces or a child’s birthday party, you’re not alone. However, a Chicago company is reinventing what it means to incorporate these inflatables into events.

Two years ago, attempting to create a balloon centerpiece to replace the standard flowers for a dinner party, Elaine Frei realized it was nearly impossible to find unique colors that matched the event’s theme, even after spending more than $200. 

“I thought, there is a void here,” says Frei, a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, who subsequently launched Luft Balloons. “People love good color selections, so this was a design opportunity.”

Frei calls her creations balloon art, crafting pieces such as columns, arches, wall attachments and even a few that take up the entirety of a space. She’s designed balloon art for birthdays, corporate events, galas, window displays, weddings and more. These are not just bunches of balloons tied together; they’re pieces that can take up an entire space and truly elevate an event. 

“Balloons transcend everything,” says Frei. “You can do anything with them.”

One such piece was for Soul City Church in Chicago, a creation Frei says was one of her favorites. The church was opening a new space for its anniversary and was looking for a new way to christen it. Frei’s team woke up at 5 a.m. on the morning of the celebration to install a giant gold, white and blush piece outside the building, as well as one inside.

“It sounds cliché, but it was ethereal, being in a spiritual place,” says Frei.

Other installations include a celebration for the Nike Air Society in Chicago, Macy’s spring fashion show, an event at Eataly and a celebration at the BHLDN in Houston. 

The installations can serve as great backdrops for a step-and-repeat, a grand entrance and, of course, an Instagram moment. Each of Frei’s installations is designed specifically to fit your event’s space. 

“That’s what sets us apart,” says Frei. “We don’t offer off-the-shelf ideas. It all comes down to what you’re trying to do in the space and what you’re trying to [make guests] feel.” 

The large clusters of the white, creamy flower of the elderberry is a frequent sight in the wilds of Texas May through July, so what better way to kick off the spring season than with a glass of The Butler House’s Elderflower Lemon Drop? Mix one up yourself and enjoy!

—1 oz. 1876 Vodka
— 1 oz. St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
—1 oz. lemon juice
—1/2 oz. Turbo simple syrup

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake then strain into a sugar-rimmed martini glass and garnish with lemon zest. Cheers!


Lots of meetings, fresh ideas, flexibility and a dedicated team are all required to pull off the best. 


Andrea Hahn, general manager of Chicago’s new MB Ice Arena, knows her way around an ice rink.