Craft enthusiasts and parents who enjoy working on creative projects are well aware that foam noodles, normally used for staying afloat in the swimming pool, make a great craft supply. The fun foam tubes are versatile and inexpensive, and it can be extremely relaxing to trim, attach, and paint with these materials. See some professional artists and designers use pool noodles to come up with a wide variety of unique creations.
Back in 2014, for a public art festival called Les Passages Insolites in Quebec, Canada, local design collective Les Astronautes won a competition to create an installation in a narrow space between two streets. The trio of Laval University School of Architecture graduates, Gabrielle Blais-Dufour, Robin Dupuis and Alexandre Hamlyn, surprised the public as they chose to line the disused alley with hundreds of pink and orange tube-shaped pool noodles.
The team lined the length of the passage between two buildings with pink-painted wooden panels that reach well above head height. Then they fixed the foam tubes into the perforations positioned in patterns across the surfaces using software including Grasshopper and Rhino, so the pool noodles droop into the alley, almost like vines in a jungle. They attract people to discover the forgotten space in the city and create a unique environment that throws passers-by into a completely different world.
Visitors walking between the colourful walls can touch and hide amongst the foam tubes. Lighting on both walls illuminates the installation, adding to the mysterious atmosphere, so the alleyway can still be used at night.
The piece is playfully titled Delirious Frites, which is a nod to the French term for the pool toys: “frites de piscine”, which translates as “pool chips”.
Another Canadian firm RAW Design used pool noodles to create a series of pompom-looking shelters to keep skaters warm on a frozen river in Winnipeg, where temperatures drop to minus 40 in winter.
In the centre of the city, the Red and the Assiniboine Rivers meet and, in winter, provide miles of skating trails. The insulated appendages were scattered along the frozen river landscape offering an engaging experience for skaters of all ages, particularly children.
The unusual design dubbed Nuzzles was inspired by the insulating properties of fur. Constructed from a geodesic mesh of hollow aluminium tubing and an outer layer of foam bristles, it provided an inner layer of still air to keep skaters warm. At night, the pieces emanated a warm glow.
Occupants were encouraged to playfully interact with the pool noodles in order to sculpt informal seating or standing space as well change the lighting dispersions of the glowing structure.
Industrial designer Lieyah Dagan has collaborated with furniture designer Spenser Atlas to explore the playful possibilities of pool noodles. Together, they created a collection of brightly coloured furniture made from the foam tubes.
The duo started out by deconstructing old chair frames and playing around with the forms the pool noodles could make. Once they finalized the designs for each piece, they added dowels and MDF board to give extra support to the frames.