BENDING THE RULES
As an global innovator in aviation CMF, Cheryl Pelly, has been working for over 20 years in graphics, product and transportation design. Her experience within the umbrella of the automotive world of BMW, had given her fresh perspectives on the desires, expectations and trends of premium luxury-centric clients. Never to want “What everyone else has” private, business and commercial aviation customers are now demanding something unique, special, technology-forward, fresh and thoughtful with elements of surprise and delight.
Deriving knowledge from fashion, hospitality, automotive, marine, rail, sports, health and wellness, entertainment and other industries, it is easy to implement the research, influences and materials used there - into aviation. The challenges are with certifications and the willingness of OEM’s to test and try something new - without disrupting the completions schedules.
When something phenomenal finally is installed, rarely are the pains of certification testing mentioned, but it is guaranteed, the competitors are watching closely. Sometimes it takes a vision to place a material in place then the suppliers have something to work with - a use for the material - a design and an application that can be visualized and understood.
A MEANINGFUL CONCEPT
Is a ‘flying home’ as a method of transportation really what people want, or should transportation just be about the ‘transport aspect?’ Or can it be something that is more a home-feeling-like-space that flies and takes you somewhere else - akin to a time machine, rather than transportation machine. Can it be both?
This is the premise of the concept BBJ Jet “Equinox.” It is a fresh idea based upon the transition of time - the perfect 50% - 50% when the seasons change - winter to summer, or from home to the office, and back again. Equinox is a perfect balance of Business and Pleasure. It brings the comforts of home into the BBJ, it becomes less of a transportation machine, but a flying home. The comforts you expect from your home - and how you live, become the “Customer Experience” here - an Open kitchen to a sunken living room, bistro seating, casual dining, and entertainment based on an informal and intimate environment.
Before you say, no way - a sunken living room!? Can’t be done, think about is it as “Could it be done?” Even if 2" down - as they do in the VLJ’s center isles? A little can go a long way. Could the bistros be a more casual fare rather than a stuffy formal dining experience? Yes, probably. But what about resale? Well, most of the BBJ’s are built to the customers specifications, so really, it is all about YOU here. Your jet, your home, your experience, your guests, your style.
HOME AT MACH 0.79
Commercial airlines continue to boast of extraordinary service before boarding, and during flight, alongside Michelin starred meals and premium branded amenities in First and Business class, it is about how many accoutrements can be offered in the ‘apartments.’ In contrast, the main benefit of the business jet is complete privacy, choice of destinations and time efficiency - some say - there is better service on a commercial airline, but a business jet can be all about YOU and your guests. This private ownership allows more personalization of the interiors to specific tastes and does not have to appeal to the ‘masses.’ So if your car has an interior in saddle brown and anthracite, your home has rich walnut woods and stone countertops, your jet could complete YOUR brand with color, material and finishes that complement your design tastes and lifestyle.
For the JetModa article - I worked alongside the premium rendering services of Miami’s3D Visualization Services, Inc. with the intention of applying the color, material and finishes to an existing airframe/furniture of a BBJ - something real that could certify. The images you see here are a study in the exploration in the emotion of color and space - and the energy and representation of certifiable suppliers showcasing new technology, materials and methods available today. Some of the new materials illustrated here are truly remarkable for the aviation industry - items such as heated stone floors and wood tile floors, glass with embedded mirrors with laser-etching, to leathers with lasered die-cut laser patterns with comfortable cooling padding straight from the jetsons, to stitching trends that are showcasing custom quilted patterns are all feasible today. Padded leather wall tiles are making an appearance here (with padding and without) - using micro-bladed textural cutting techniques, this is something we are excited about, as the marine market has enjoyed these premium details for years. LED Light-embedded and 3-D sculpted carpets are an emerging trend and I expect to see more of this as it is discovered. All of these interesting material developments would not have been possible just a few years ago.
Cabin interiors have evolved from choosing a seat, layout and handful of colors from the standard suppliers. New technology combined with the desire to have a post-80’s interior design are pushing designers and suppliers to develop human-centric luxuries that VIP fliers expect - just as they expect in their homes and cars.
FAA approved materials now include heated wood and leather floors, thin marble, as well as engraved and object embedded glass and mirrors. Other luxuries include massaging, air-conditioned, and heated seats. Software applications are now available to control creature comforts and digital entertainment fresh out of the Consumer Electronics Show.
With spectacular product design innovations such as FAA approved skylights and panoramic windows, some standard elements will always remain on the necessity list in the VIP jet including carpets, textiles, upholstery and the overall micro design of the passenger experience.
“In a well-designed interior, materials are applied to fresh, seamless, modern and contemporary surfaces. Sometimes shapes themselves make the design statement. In that case textures remain subtle - but if a simple surface needs to be finished in an area that will see eleven hours of passenger interaction, for example, special attention is warranted.”
A recent request from Dassault for a Falcon 7X interior CMF concept included a special request: “Give us four new materials.” Examining materials from the automotive, residential and hospitality markets produced four “Themed Concept Boxes.” These were created with multiple materials that were intended to inspire a design direction. The boxes were entitled Business, Technology, Spa and Natural. This concept box idea sparked the idea for showcasing leather floors, removable suede seat covers, thick radiant polycarbonate inserts for countertop and table inserts, and countertops, horizontal grained matte finish veneer furniture and bulkheads, and uniquely woven leather sidewall details.
Reaching out to non-aviation textile showrooms like the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, California, is a smart way to begin any innovative aviation CMF project. Going in with an idea but letting something catch your eye and developing a few color ways from there can produce magic. Knowing the “Impossibles” in advance while giving new textiles a chance is a critical step and a key to innovating away from “been there, done that.” extra effort ensures each client that you reached out and found something special for them. There will always need to be testing, but innovation always takes extra effort and the result can be rewarding for all.
NATURAL IS STILL PREMIUM
While fantastic textiles are becoming a reality with technology-embedded fibers that can tell your temperature, heart rate and change your environment accordingly, natural fibers today still convey “Premium.” Available in stunning colors, naturally soft, luxurious, elegant, non-toxic and renewable, silks are still the most desirable materials you can very easily specify in aircraft. Scott Group carpets are experts in weaving silk into wool to deliver a premium product that feels and looks amazing.
Looking to different industries for inspiration and trends
Looking to other industries for possible aviation material sources and inspiration is a privilege. The automotive industry brings lasered micro-textures, veneers, metalcrafting and non-wovens to the table; furniture fairs bring wow! ideas to the forefront; fashion trends bring spirit, new lines, color directions, bravery and style to the plate and new architectural materials and geometry bring real inspirational design directions and materials that are fire-rated and drive the development of approved materials.
When considering home interior trends for aviation, such as quilting or padded wall tile effects, bear in mind that the product from these regular suppliers may not be FAA approved, but can often be replicated in FAA approved foam and stitching. Porous materials represent a special challenge but the experienced designer can often find ways to obtain approved versions of these as well.
Creating living comfort, to really use and enjoy
An emerging design direction is one of aircraft being less a method of transportation and meeting vessel, and more of a home away from home. Design innovators imagine trends that turn the galleys into a gourmet kitchens sheathed in professional kitchen finishes, authentic materials, and living environments with softer textiles, elegant palettes and home comfort amenities.
Average jet passenger count
It has always stuck in my mind that the REAL average passenger count for a private aircraft (G550) has been 3-4. Aircraft are advertised with passenger capacity as a selling point, but rarely are these seats used - and with that in mind could an aircraft be configured better to accompany the smaller number of guests more comfortably; more elegantly, with more space, a more casual environment, and greater choices in space layout?
Age of customer, taste and trends
In 2007 things changed. After the big five auto companies flew into Washington to ask for bail-out money it was suddenly “In poor taste” to travel in a business jet. The 2007 Recession stopped the private business traveler for a good, long time - but in 2017 younger executives are moving up and into the world of business aircraft. They are more aware of the latest trends and design in luxury vehicles and their homes. It isn’t surprising that expectations for materials and technology are high and carry over into what would be called “Risk-taking” when compared with existing aviation interior styles.
What’s your favorite color?
Color is complex, more than red, yellow, green or blue. Color is more about the application, light, location, shape, proportion, transparency, finish, material, use and method of application. Really, COLOR is less about the actual COLOR itself, but how it is used.
Health and Wellness
More than time travel from place A to B, is it possible to be more refreshed when arriving than when you departed? Concept interiors showcase spas, rain-showers, massage tables, humidifiers, timed food/hydration menus, heat/warmth, quietness, it goes on. How can these elements be incorporated into an environment to improve the experience?
What does timelessness mean exactly? Plain white? No decoration? Gray? To me it is the essence of using the simpler, yet expressive, lines that work in harmony with the environment (nature is timeless) and use those proportions to drive the look and feel an interior. These interiors may not change for 5-10 years, if ever. And always near the top of the purchasers mind: “What is Best for Resale.”
When Less is More and More is More
Back to the Gold, I love this example because it really inspires passion! So if something is going to be used - it may be counterintuitive to say - hey - if you are afraid of it - MAKE A WHOLE WALL OF IT. It may be better to really apply the concept seamlessly as a whole rather than just apply it here and there halfheartedly. It goes back to “What is color?” - and “how shall we use it?”
Good design must be functional
Open any interior design magazine and often the first page of an interior will be a set of couches, a couple of chairs and a short coffee table placed in the center far away from any useful distance. While this is open and spacious and subconsciously EXPECTED, it really is not functional. Designers often see most VIP jets in a max-capacity layout with everything centered around a formal dining room table, conference table, or the like. Don’t you find it true that powerful decisions are often made with just two people discussing things face-to-face?
The JetModa concept for this article uses an informal café layout to emphasize a gathering of deal-makers rather than a large conference of analysts and bureaucrats.
Apps and the passenger experience
I predict a greater integration of the cabin control apps and the physical cabin environment to blend with user preferences, “Less formality and more function.” Understated luxury will be the norm with passengers who will want spaces that are personal, warm and authentic, whether for business colleagues, friends or family. All the while innovative aviation CMF design will cater to the senses and ergonomics in an open and communal layout to work, write, eat/snack, sleep, and enjoy the journey more than ever.
“The Casual Cabin is taking flight - the understated luxury environment with open communal cabin layouts.”
FAA approved materials now include heated wood and leather floors, thin marble, as well as engraved and object embedded glass and mirrors.
“The Casual Cabin is taking flight - the understated luxury environment with open communal cabin layouts.”
“There are apps for everything in your life now. Aviation is no exception.”
“The VIP jet can be a place that makes you comfortable - a place where you WANT to be rather than HAVE to be.”
“The Equinox concept jet is an example of an environment that is designed to be about confidence in yourself - your accomplishments and the luxury of unused space in flight and the precious resource of time. It is a balance of work and life.”