Kaikai Kiki Co. is an art production and artist management company founded by the artist Takashi Murakami of Japan.
History with the Macy's Parade
When Macy's started the "Blue Sky Gallery" series of balloons in 2005, Mr. Murakami was one of a handful of artists Macy’s sought out. In 2008, Macy’s began communicating with Mr. Murakami, who in the global art scene is known as much for his inflatable sculptures of psychedelic anime-style cartoon characters as for the Louis Vuitton handbags and Casio watches he designs. At that time, however, he was preparing for a retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum and could not immediately contribute to the Parade.
Two years later in 2010, Mr. Murakami sent word that he wanted to create balloons of Kaikai and Kiki. In response to e-mailed questions, he explained that the characters “in many ways represent the aesthetic philosophy behind my work.”
“They are cute yet fearsome,” he wrote, “modern and yet connected to the past. They embody eccentric beauty.”
The Macy’s Parade Studio in Hoboken, N.J., had only a few months to work on the designs with Mr. Murakami. Of particular concern to John Piper, the vice president of the studio, was whether the balloonified characters, with their gigantic heads and teeny-tiny limbs, would be able to achieve what he called free lift — meaning, Mr. Piper said, “that there’s enough helium inside the balloon to not only compensate for its weight but to make it fly.”
At an accelerated pace John Piper and his team exchanged sketches with Mr. Murakami and his staff, and over the summer Mr. Piper chaperoned two small clay sculptures of the balloons on a trip to the artist’s Tokyo studio. (The sculptures, Mr. Piper said, traveled in “a very big, very sturdy piece of luggage, inside of which was a whole other steel structure to absorb any shock.”)
The completed balloons were flown for the first time in early November at a Macy’s testing facility in South Dakota, and made their first public appearance on a stretch of 81st Street, in the form of 30-foot balloons.
The balloons accompanied Takashi Murakami down the Parade route, who was dressed in a flower outfit of his own design. After their only flight, they were deflated and shipped back to the Macy's Parade Studio, where they still reside as of 2016.