​WI helped Chanel launch its now famous rocket, a large and elaborate scenic centrepiece built for their Paris Fashion Week AW17-18 runway show at the Paris Grand Palais venue. The rocket took off - complete with smoke, sparks and engine burn - to the strains of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” at the end of the collection … which was replete with space age references.

Working for Ateliers Devineau, a WI team led by Geert Stockmans was asked to design and install a mechanical system to lift the top part of the scenic rocket into its final position, almost touching the roof of the venue’s central dome - a feat that was impossible to achieve by crane - which would then also need to be dismantled!

They also had to devise an automation system to lift the bottom half of the rocket at high speed to simulate an actual launch for the spectacular show end.

The system integrated four high speed / high capacity winches in a 26 metre steel tower used as a central spine of the 35 metre long rocket.

WI asked StageCo to provide a steel tower and assist with some custom metalwork pieces that were necessary to make the scheme work.

They sourced the high speed winches and adapted them to work with their Kinesys Velocity drives and Vector control system, adding load-cell capability so the weight loadings for the whole system could be monitored and checked.

WI managed all the engineering, the set-up on site and the operation, collaborating closely with Tom Bilsen of StageCo plus the team from Ateliers Devineau and their project manager and technical designer François Devineau, who had the set pieces built.

Time was – as always – a big challenge. By the time the project received the green light, there was no opportunity for a test build so it was down to following a set of detailed drawings and working with skilled partners who could bring their experience and knowledge to the table and be relied upon to produce results.

The automation elements were relatively straightforward, but the scale was galvanising. The rocket was 35 metres tall and the top part weighed a hefty 3 tonnes … requiring four serious 1,600Kg capacity winches each wound with 72.5 metres of 12 mm steel cable to lift it!

The bottom part – at 5 tonnes – was not exactly lightweight either and it was constructed to lift in cylinder-style over the top part to emulate the lift off.

WIcreations’ on site team was led by Erik Gielen & Patrick Mangelschots with Chris Das at the control desk.


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Grand Palais, Paris