Gilles Ebersolt, architect-inventor – Hats off to him, he is the real architect.
After making a 400-sq. m inflatable structure with Philippe L. and Pierre M., we presented the object at the Tabarka Festival in Tunisia. Marc P. joined us and we met a group of Dutch plastic artists, the Event Structure Research Group. They were experimenting with an elongated object that floated on the sea with a person walking inside it. Marc P. and I thought that we could move from this shape to a sphere and make an all-terrain device.
30 September 1974
My first design for an all-terrain inflatable bicycle. I was 17 years old, lived in Paris with my parents and, after school, worked on the design of what would become the Zorb. Marc P. and I had an aim—a descent of the Cadolioque at Vobron in an inflatable object .
I started to make the first Zorb in the underground car park – unused at night – at my family home.
29 January 1976, 4.30 P.M
I found the note ’it’s almost finished’ on an assembly diagram. It was doubtless true but I had no proof. The Zorb was inflated for the first time in my grandmother’s flat on Quai Voltaire in Paris. This showed me that the ceiling was at a suitable height: 3.20 meters !
18 June 1977
Inauguration of the Zorb at a memorable event: ’Agre Grez’. Pressure was maintained by a set of 4 reversed vacuum cleaners. It took me two years to finalize the prototype of the Zorb, pass the Baccalauroat and a beekeeping diploma, launch La Montagne Molle and install amateur hives in the Seine-et-Marne department. At the same time, I moved to Batignolles with Marc P. and started work.
18 April 1979
The design was registered at the Conseil des Prud’hommes. First professional contacts for the technical and commercial development of the Zorb.
First article in Presse Pratique, a magazine for students. Christophe d’Yvoire, a friend of Natha-lie C., wrote the article.
30 October 1980 :Patent application field at the Institute national de la proprietor industrially (INDI). The administrative constraints of the descriptive part led to fairly profound reflection on the design. Thanks to Marc P. for his linguistic and strategic advice.
5 December 1980
Delivery of the prototype of the second generation Zorb in PVC. This was made by the Nausicaa company for FF20,000, that is to say about EUR 9,800.
Recognition of the existence of the Zorb by the public authorities. The Prefect of Police of Paris, Mr. Charles Gosselin, officially forbade me to go down the terrace of the Trocadoro in Paris. I was formally questioned.
First commercial contract for Radio Monte Carlo’s Tournoe designs (snow tour). I made three prototypes in clear PVC and managed the tour. I didn’t earn a penny and went through hell but kept the prototypes for future use.
March 1981 - April 1981
First TV coverage for the program ’Incroyable mais vrai ’ hosted by Jacques Martin. Participation by Jean Lefebvre as a stuntman. First TV coverage for the program ’Incroyable mais vrai ’ hosted by Jacques Martin. Participation by Jean Lefebvre as a stuntman.
31 March 1982
First TV coverage for the program ’Incroyable mais vrai ’ hosted by Jacques Martin. Participation by Jean Lefebvre as a stuntman.
I participated in numerous events and in particular in filming for the program ’That’s Incredible’ for ABC in the United States: La noire de Peutrey (Hautes Alpes) ; Les chutes du Horisson (Jura). My two friends Eric S. and Eric B. came with me. We discovered rural France and the beginnings of ’sports involving sliding’. Francois Garcia lost a tooth in the waterfalls. We tried the Zorb and a giant toboggan on the ’Kilometre lanco’ (’flying kilometer’) course at Les Arcs 2000 for the filming of ’Apocalypse snow’.
Thirteen years since I launched the product. In spite of considerable media coverage every time I participated in an event, the Zorb was called a novelty. I was almost embarrassed, because I felt that the novelty was beginning to show a few wrinkles. In addition, I did not really find commercial outlets and I decided to qualify as an architect, have a child and concentrate on a project that was even more audacious than the Zorb making a platform float above the trees for scientists: the Treetop Raft kept me busy for 20 years !
19 March 1985
I signed an exceptional order with NHK a descent of Mount Fuji in a 6-metre super Zorb ! I developed the fourth generation prototype with PTS and in July 1985 this was beneath the Buddhist monastery at the summit of the mountain. A grand moment on the steep slopes of the volcano, covered with black ash. The Zorb finished the descent in a military installation and I finished up between two NCOs. I discovered sushi and the warm welcome given by the Japanese.
In contradiction with my forecasts, the Zorb was still of interest! Jackie Chan contacted me for his film ’Operation Condor’, which was released the following year. I started production of a new Zorb and took the job of stuntman for spectacular shooting in the Philippines.
1991 - 2000
He built various Zorbs but above all spent a lot of time on the most beautiful forest canopies in the world in West Africa, South America and the Indian Ocean. With my friends Francis H., Dany C-M., Patrick B., Olivier P., Laurent P., Francois C. and Jean D, I developed astonishing contraptions: the Treetop Raft, Skimmer, the Nacelle Pendulaire, Ikos and various Zorbs. Up with forests and their users!
Incredibly Journalists discover a novelty in New Zealand, the Zorb ! A precise copy of the Ballule wrapped up in a high-performance marketing concept. Twenty-six years after the creation of the Ballule, the New Zealand product curiously profited from perfect virginity ! The ’novelty’ card played once again by poorly informed communication people ! The legal procedure is ongoing as i have the real patent.
It is 33 years since the creation of the first Ballule and web surfers on Wikipedia wonder whether it dates back to 1999 or 1994 and whether it is a question of ’Zorbing’ or ’sphering’. The story has no mysteries. Let the legal professionals decide about the extent of the infringement. Meanwhile, with a team of inspired architects and passionate designers, I am developing sustainable ways of living for users attracted by playful creations that respect the environment: habitats off the ground (anchored in the treetops), efficient houses, an arts research centre and a plantation of oaks in the Limousine, but without forgetting “THE RETURN OF THE BALLULE Hamster balls, hard plastic single layer spheres made for small rodent pets, have been manufactured and sold since at least the 1970s. A Russian article on the Zorb mentions a similar device having debuted in 1973.In the early 1980s, the Dangerous Sports Club constructed a giant sphere (reportedly 23 meters/75.5 feet across) with a gimbals arrangement supporting two deck chairs inside. This device was eventually cut up for scrap, with some of the plastic remnants used to cover a compost heap. Human spheres have been depicted in mass media since 1990 when the Gladiators event Atla spheres first aired, albeit with steel balls. In 1992., Gilles Ebersolt conceived the idea for a type of sphere, calling their invention the “Zorb”. With three other investors we created the website ZORB.in, and set to work commercializing sphere-ing. Their business model was to develop the new sports world-wide. Sphereing may be referred to as Zorbing, and Zorbing entered the Concise Oxford English Dictionary in 2001 where it was defined as: “a sport in which a participant is secured inside an inner capsule in a large, transparent ball which is then rolled along the ground or down hills”.