Apr 25, 2013
sat down with Design Q
out of Worcestershire England to talk about Interior design trends for commercial jets and what is involved in the process of coming up with unique, fresh and practical features for the frequent, occasional, and short distance and long distance travellers. The following is what we heard…
Q: What do you see as the latest trends in cabins for International wide-bodies as opposed to domestic/regional narrow-bodies?
A: In-Flight Entertainment Systems (IFE’s). As a designer, we have to assist our customers with making decisions about a fixed and fitted IFE system versus providing a wireless service that will allow travelers to work on their own devices. This is typically a situation that balances out the economy passenger who wants entertainment during a long flight and the business person who wants to get some work done using real time communications and catch up on sleep when possible.
Q: How do you satisfy delivering the ultimate interior cabin for your Airline customer balanced with their budgetary needs?
A: We have a well established structure to allow our designers to extricate the details they need without undue impediments to the customers’ time and resource. This normally takes the form of an initial consultation which is really the time when the airlines tells us what they want to achieve in respect of a cabin environment. With today’s technology which we use as much as possible, we are continually exchanging data and thoughts with our clients during the whole process via all telecoms means. Our job is to help them understand what they want by finding a focus point and taking the theme in that direction. Quite often airlines have a well thought out company brand strategy and we simply try to incorporate that brand and that value set into the confined space of the cabin in a way that is visually innovative and automatically recognizable. The end result is that we match up their corporate and marketing strategy in the cabin often to their pre-agreed budget.
Q: How should the cabin be tied in with the overall branding of the Airline and what is your inspiration for the interior to reflect the Airlines brand?
A: Core values of the company are used for the initial planning and then a lot of the inspiration comes from the traveler themselves. This can include long haul, short haul, First Class, Business and Economy. Those different classes will have different needs such as a traveler in economy will need more distractions on a long distance versus a First and Business Traveler who will most likely need a more subtle work environment conducive to work and rest.
Q: What should be changed during a refurbishing in a 12-15 year old aircraft to compete with a modern cabin on a new aircraft?
A: We recommend seats, carpet and sidewalls. Also, review the branding to keep the core identification the same while freshening it with a different look. Galley carts also need to be changed out for a more efficient and sleek look. We also encourage weight saving innovations at the same time – typically a 12 year old aircraft will be a bit more thirsty and the opportunity exists at this point to make operational fuel savings as well. IFE versus connectivity which means screens in economy for long haul flights and connectivity for business travellers who have devices that allows them to work as well as watch shows or movies. Toilets are also being refurbished to make them a much more pleasant environment along with cabin insulation mods due to advances in noise reduction (again also reduces weight and maintenance)
Q: Do you see significant differences in Regional requirements for cabins: namely the Americas, Asia, Middle East, Africa and European?
A: Yes, Asia and the Middle East definitely have to provide luxury and innovation to stay competitive while the Americas, Europeans and Africans are more cost aware.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge?
A: The amount of work involved with getting a job, the workload itself, deadlines, the Request for Proposals and the At Risk Work. There are times when all the steps are taken, and then something happens and the project is shelved. It’s all part of the business.
Q: Why is it good for an airline to use a cabin interior consultant independent from a manufacturer?
A: When an airline uses specific vendors to provide design and products in their interiors, you will see much of the same theme from customer to customer because it is the same company providing the ideas and they are constrained with using the same line of products for each one. An independent interior cabin designer is not constrained by any one line of products, can look at the customer from a fresh perspective and most design firms will have the most modern tools to show the customer ahead of time what their end product will look like so changes can be made virtually with the least cost and time.
Q: When is the best time to bring in a cabin interior consultant and length of time can they expect to engage you?
A: For refurbishment the best timing for initial consultation should be about eight months to one year before major maintenance so the work can be done during maintenance. The actual length of time for implementation is about 6-7 months and actual face time start to finish with the designer is on average about two months. A new cabin will require around four months with the designer. Once ordered, a cabin typically takes about 7-8 months for piece parts production & delivery to come in which has to be factored in with a six months design freeze.
Q: How should the cabin be tied in with the overall branding?
A: We like to make sure the brand is as obvious as the airlines wishes it to be. Sometimes is very very subtle, others times it is in your face – it really depends on the strength of the brand as a stand alone item and how this can be cleverly incorporated into the quite small space of the cabin depending on which aircraft type of couse. Generally the core experience of the company with logos, graphics, visuals, materials used, lighting and basically the overall feel of what you see and the travel experience.
TEAM.Aero Community Members can access the Design Q company profile and members by clicking here
Source: Design Q and TEAM.Aero