An inflated sense of architecture

Jennifer Karmon

Go ahead, call them airheads. They (probably) won't mind.

Two exhibitors at the Dwell on Design show in Los Angeles this weekend will be showcasing inflatable "bubble" structures.

The more poppable-looking sphere pictured is "a nomadic outdoor room with all the comfort of indoors," according to manufacturer CasaBubble. It comes with a wooden floor and can accommodate a table for semi-al-fresco entertaining or even a bed for sleeping under the stars. (In fact, CasaBubble is reportedly developing a bed-and-breakfast network across the U.S.)

From its website:

The sphere is inflated by a silent air turbine, the blower, which maintains a light pressure into the Bubble. It keeps the air fresh and avoids problems with moisture. The atmosphere inside the bubble is healthy, with no condensation, mosquitoes, dust or allergens. Zipped openings give initial temperature control by modulating the evacuation of the air at the top of the bubble at the rate of two to six times the volume of air per hour, depending on the model.

The structure can be "bio-air-conditioned without using extra energy," the manufacturers say, "by means of earth-air heat exchangers or thermal storage systems" called Canadian or Provencal wells. But in hotter climes it should be placed in the shade or under a shade wing, the designer told the Los Angeles Times' L.A. at Home blog.

The price ranges from about $9,000 to about $19,000, the Times reports.

The other inflatable structure on show will be AirClad's concept poolhouse, debuting at Dwell on Design (the smaller white structure toward the foreground of the picture). It's "essentially a lightweight solar shade," as the Times describes it, not enclosed all the way around as CasaBubble's structure is. The base, sides and top are inflated.

A David Hockney painting inspired the design, AirClad's founder told the Times. (The blog post identifies it as "The Big Splash," but we think that should be "A Bigger Splash," which does look loosely like AirClad's concept.)