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A seaside favourite: The inflatable rubber "swimming ring"

The lifebuoy was originally designed to save sailors from drowning. This floating device, otherwise known as the "Kisbee ring", named after a British naval officer, became commonplace on boats with the meteoric rise of maritime transport in the 19th century.
A seaside favourite: The inflatable rubber
A seaside favourite: The inflatable rubber "swimming ring"

At the time, the buoy was a crown-shaped object made of cork and covered with canvas. Today, it is made of polyethylene filled with polyurethane foam.

From lifesaving to learning to swim

Seaside tourism grew popular with the advent of the leisure society in the inter-war period. People no longer went to the coast only for health reasons; they were now going for fun.

People began experiencing many new water-based activities, from sea bathing to swimming lessons in public swimming pools. The rubber "swimming rings" made it possible for many children and adults to learn to swim.

It wasn't until the 1960s when seaside holidays became accessible to all, and plastics became one of the most commonly-used materials for everyday objects that the first rubber rings appeared!

It is to Nguyen Manh Khanh, a Vietnamese engineer, that we owe this swimming pool essential. Better known as Quasar Khanh, he was Philippe Starck's mentor and discovered by chance that blowing compressed air into a volume of plastic turns it into a very strong material. Based on this observation, he launched his brand of inflatable furniture called Quasar in 1967, a collection featuring fluid lines and transparency. A pure product of Pop culture!

Made mainly of PVC, the inflatable rings were lightweight and round at first, and were later made in the shape of animals such as crocodiles or dolphins.

Style for the summer

Nowadays, inflatables come in increasingly complex shapes. They can be unusual, fun, flashy, and even oversized, the possibilities are truly endless. On a day out at the pool, you could run into any of the following: donut, pink flamingo, pizza, watermelon, pineapple, ice cream cone and even a unicorn.

The social networks have propelled these accessories to the rank of must-haves. They are no longer kitsch and have become the essential decorative object for our summers. A truly fun object that rhymes with summer, lazy days and relaxation!

They are still the stuff of children's dreams, but they are now also popular with adults in search of childhood pleasures or water-based entertainment. The rubber ring still has a bright future ahead of it!

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