Meet Pure Skies, PriestmanGoode’s answer to the future of flight, responding to the recent curve ball Covid-19 threw at cabin designers of today.
The London-based design studio created a new design concept to support the future success of the aviation industry – understanding that a clean slate is needed to bring confidence back to the passenger experience. ‘Pure Skies’ includes a complete review of Business and Economy Class cabins and addresses pressing consumer, business and environmental concerns.
These fantastical designs might look alien to most, especially in the economy cabin which now features monocoque seat shells and vertical dividers but that’s because the design agency wanted to reinvent the cabin from the ground up.
Nigel Goode, Co-founding Director at PriestmanGoode said: “This latest work from the studio represents pragmatic innovation. With the benefit of over 30 years’ experience, we know how to harness design to achieve long-term positive change. We’ve looked ahead to imagine future scenarios and taken into account new passenger behaviours driven by the global pandemic to ensure our designs can be implemented within a few years and will meet user and airline requirements for many years ahead.”
The design team for this concept even threw out the rule book of traditional cabin naming architecture. No longer economy and Business Class, meet ‘Rooms’ and ‘Zones’ which certainly allude to a more residential approach, something we’ve seen with the likes of ANA’s and Etihad’s naming structures.
The Rooms are akin to a hybridisation of Emirates, ANA, Qatar, Air France and British Airways to name a few design flourishes that look familiar. But these designs are the end result of looking at three core pillars of personal space, hygiene and the new need for a touch-free journey.
Each seat is a fully enclosed personal space, and we love the fact the seat is partitioned by full height curtains which are a softer touch on today’s clunky door mechanisms. An emerging trend from design agencies is the need to simplify parts and seams to reduce dirt accumulation. So the Room is a totally new seat design with minimal split lines and seam-welded fabrics which are antimicrobial in nature.
To give a more homely feel there is personal lighting and temperature control thanks to the fact these seats virtually plug and play into the aircraft architecture creating mini-fully enclosed cabins. While IFE is improving in functionality, to help with the touch-free concept, the IFE system would be fully synchronised with the passengers’ own devices.
The concept would actually ask for the airline not to include overhead bins in the regular fit out of the premium cabin, as each of these units would feature an inbuilt overhead bin as well as a personal wardrobe built in to the wall of the ‘room’.
It’s an interesting concept, and as Luke Hawes, Director at PriestmanGoode added: “As a team our mantra has been to ‘build back better’. We have also found ways to include flexible features that differentiate the service and enable tailored products and tiered pricing options for airlines. This is about providing flexibility and protecting the industry for the future, with ideas that fly.”
In economy there’s even more innovation, although fixed-shell recline seats have never scored highly with passengers – ourselves included, so we’d have to be won over in that regard. The ‘Zones’ as they will be named will feature partition screens every other row for greater separation and to aid the visual cue of airflow being vertical in aircraft rather than horizontal (although it’s good to point out there’s very little need for these screens from a Covid-19 standpoint).
Eagle-eyed readers might notice the staggered seat configuration to maximise feeling of personal space and allow passengers to sit in the groups they are travelling in – whether alone, as a couple or in groups.
The back of the seat shells are truly monocoque, with no gaps to help eliminate dirt traps and keep the seats cleaner. Also, there is a recline mechanism, but it’s entirely contained within the fabric skin of the seat to avoid split lines and hard-to clean gaps. No more lost phone we guess!
PriestmanGoode are also betting on the removal of IFE screens in favour of passenger owned devices which can be charged and held in place by a magnetic panel. This is a nice idea on paper, but the potential challenges this will bring from safety and security standpoints might see a watered down production version of this.
As mentioned in our last article, design thinking can bring revenue opportunities to airlines too. This concept also presents additional commercial opportunities from IFE hire or mix and match seating design with additional screens and space at a greater price point.
Nigel Goode concludes: “With both passengers and airline employees at the heart of this project, we have not only taken onboard present anxieties but also tried to ensure our solutions are future-proofed against future pandemics, recognising the significant commitment and investment involved.”
I have to admit, I’m thoroughly impressed with the approaches each and every design studio has taken to this pandemic. They’ve adapted quickly, and each has come up with innovative approaches to the issues and challenges Covid-19 has brought with it. It’s certainly an exciting time for design in aviation.