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Shape shifters

May 18th, 2015 / By: / Markets, Tents

A Zendome tent was set up for a Queen’s Day reception in Berlin, Germany, in 2012. More than 1,000 guests celebrated the queen’s birthday inside the tent. Photo: Nina Straßgütl, courtesy of Zenvision GmbH
A Zendome tent was set up for a Queen’s Day reception in Berlin, Germany, in 2012. More than 1,000 guests celebrated the queen’s birthday inside the tent. Photo: Nina Straßgütl, courtesy of Zenvision GmbH

Today’s tent manufacturers and renters are thinking outside the rectangle.

The Pythagoreans dissected a sphere as early as 600 B.C. Plato and Buckminster Fuller took the ball and ran with it, so to speak. But in 2015, Platonic polyhedral/geodesic domes still are fresh on the scene when it comes to tented events. After all, rental tents are typically peaked rectangles — except in certain circles.

Zenvision GmbH of Berlin, Germany, introduced its patented dome-shaped tent less than a decade ago. “Our client base is innovative, early adopters,” says Gordian Overschmidt, chief marketing officer, adding that nontraditional tent shapes represent “simply places for ideas.”

Tentipi AB was inspired by the traditional, cone-shaped Nordic tents of the Lapland. Unusually shaped tents provide “the ability to wow an audience by offering something unexpected,” says Jon Parr, managing director of Tentipi’s main distributor in Little London, England. Although the company is dedicated to one style, it has developed a gusset system allowing the tent to be pitched like a giant “witch’s hat.” This ability to raise the sides makes it possible to link tents into a range of nontraditional configurations. Six tents can be laid out in as a “T” bone or as a flower. Link 18 tents and you have a tire so that you could, for instance, host a covered dinner party and have a band in the center.

Multiple Stratus Tents from Tentipi were used at a corporate "fun day" in North London, England. Some edges meet the ground, while others are raised into a "brim." Photo: The Stunning Tents Company
Multiple Stratus Tents from Tentipi were used at a corporate “fun day” in North London, England. Some edges meet the ground, while others are raised into a “brim.” Photo: The Stunning Tents Company

“The goal of different shapes is to give the end user the sense of a high-end structure with form following function,” says Jeff McInnes, North America sales manager for HTS-USA in Delray Beach, Fla. “It’s best to showcase high-end products with a structure of quality and design elements. These [nontraditional] systems allow avant-garde creativity.”

For years, HTS has offered hexagons, octagons, and decagons. Its newest shapes include the Manhattan tent, featuring a 7-degree-pitch roofline, a valance for signage that conceals the roofline, and cantilevered roofs over upper-level decks. The Icon, with a 12-degree pitch and curved apex can be installed asymmetrically — for example, with 3-meter legs on one side and 5-meter legs on the other.

“Tent manufacturers are listening to the end users and visionaries and creating collaborative environments,” McInnes says. “[T]ent and event rental companies are differentiating themselves to invest in high-end products. They’re winning projects on design criteria instead of lower cost per square foot, which is good for the industry.”

Janice Kleinschmidt is a freelance writer and editor based in San Diego, Calif.

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