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Designing the interiors of the Superjumbo

 
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karatecatman
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 12:43 pm    Post subject: Designing the interiors of the Superjumbo Reply with quote

www.nytimes.com/2008/08/28/garden/28plane.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=garden
Design Notebook
A Superjumbo Jigsaw Puzzle


Robyn Beck/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
An Airbus A380.


By ALICE RAWSTHORN
Published: August 27, 2008
SOMETIMES designers set out to create something gorgeous; other times, it’s a technological breakthrough. Often, though, their goals are more mundane, like finding a way to shave an inch off the width of the back of the cheapest seat in an aircraft.


Airbus via Bloomberg News
FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS Singapore Airlines’s showstopper lounge.

“It doesn’t sound like much,” admitted Marc Newson, the industrial designer who tackled that problem when planning the cabin of the Airbus A380 double-deck superjumbo jet for the Australian airline Qantas. “But it’s mind-bogglingly difficult, and that extra inch makes a big difference. It could save someone from having to bend their knees throughout a long-haul flight.”

Slimming down the cheap seats was one of innumerable design challenges Mr. Newson’s team faced in its work on the Qantas A380, which is being prepared for its first flight next month, from a factory in Toulouse, France, to Sydney. It will begin regular commercial flights in October.

“Our job is to look at everything in the cabin, all of the thousands of little details, most of which the passengers will never notice, and to make sure that they’re intelligently designed,” said Mr. Newson, who is best known as the record-breaking star of the “design art” market for limited-edition sculptural furniture (thanks largely to the 2007 Christie’s sale of one of his 1986 aluminum Lockheed Lounge chaise longues for $1.5 million).

Mr. Newson devotes most of his time, however, to industrial design, which is generally considered to be more complex and more intellectually demanding. A freelance designer born in Australia, he has studios in London and Paris and is Qantas’s creative director. He was commissioned to design the A380 interior in 2004, along with first-class lounges at Sydney and Melbourne Airports, after developing a new business-class seat for the airline in 2003. The plane is his most ambitious project so far.

When Airbus unveiled plans for the A380 early in the decade, it was depicted as a flying pleasure palace with bars and spas. After decades of conservative airline design, it offered an opportunity to do something different, for the simple reason that it had 49 percent more cabin space than its main competitor, the Boeing 747.

The Qantas cabin is more restrained than those of other airlines that have already unveiled A380s: Singapore Airlines has private first-class suites, and Emirates has showers in the first-class bathrooms. Qantas spurned such showstopping features in favor of a sprucely futuristic style.

Like many of the other airlines that have ordered the A380, including Singapore and Emirates, Qantas has allocated most of the extra space to business class, the most profitable section of most long-haul aircraft, where the seats have been made considerably larger, as they have in first class. And there are 450 seats in Qantas’s A380, 38 more than in the 747s on its routes between Australia and the United States. (Qantas will charge the same fares for the A380 as for all its other planes.)

In addition to the brief of comfortably accommodating the requisite number of passengers, Mr. Newson’s team had to navigate strict safety regulations and the logistical labyrinth of a multinational industry with unionized work forces in airports all over the world.

“It’s unbelievably complex,” he said. “There’s fire testing, crash testing and all of the health and safety issues relating to objects used 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you alter the shape of a plate, you may have to alter the tray and the carts, which can get you into massive logistical issues.”

To make things even more difficult, he was working on the aircraft while it was still being built, a process plagued by delays.

For the look of the interior, Mr. Newson chose a sober version of the retro-futurist style he developed in the early 1990s, which has since become the default for fashionable bars. The shapes in the A380 are gentler, and the colors calmer: beige for first class and earthy shades of red, orange and green for the rest, accented by a honeycomb mesh pattern on the carpets and seat backs.

All the accessories — doorknobs, dining trays, bathroom fittings and so on — are styled in what Newson calls “the old airline aesthetic” of the 1960s (which some aviation blogs have slammed as overly austere).


Richard Harbus for International Herald Tribune
COME FLY WITH ME Marc Newson gave the Qantas A380 superjumbo a gentle design.


Brett Boardman
An extra inch of legroom in economy.



Brett Boardman
Soft lines in the bathroom.


Brett Boardman
Sleek, lighted stairs.

Yet the design language of the Qantas A380 is defined less by what the passengers see than by how they feel. Given that flat beds, cashmere blankets and other airline “innovations” are instantly copied by the competition, Mr. Newson has tried to distinguish Qantas’s superjumbo with intelligent detailing derived from the old-fashioned design process of analyzing every component to identify how it could best be made and laid out with the latest technology.

Giving economy passengers an extra inch of leg room is a prime example. The seats in first class are 6.5 inches wider, and those in business class 20 inches longer than the ones in Qantas’s 747s. But the airline was stingier with extra space in economy and premium economy. The only way to compensate was by making the seat backs slimmer. Mr. Newson’s team did so by developing a lightweight carbon-fiber shell with Recaro, the German manufacturer, which used similar technology in seating for race cars.

Among the other details are bassinets with state-of-the-art upholstery, additional padding and extra soundproofing to help babies sleep more comfortably. And, instead of the customary metal footrests, there are soft mesh ones that, combined with the angle of the seats, stop passengers from sliding forward. Each first-class seat has two screens, one large and one small; passengers can see the map of the flight on the small screen while watching a movie on the big one. A control pad on the first-class seat backs allows the cabin crew to switch off the lights or close the window shades without reaching across sleeping passengers.

Then there are the L.E.D.’s that illuminate the cabin. They are programmed to wash the interior with colors that change subtly throughout the flight. Each shade is selected to create the ideal mood for a particular activity, like sleeping, waking or eating, regardless of time zone.

“Designing an aircraft is like creating a mini-world,” Mr. Newson said. “You’re putting people in a confined environment and controlling how they’ll feel with the oxygen, humidity and everything they touch and see. It all has an effect.”

A version of this article appeared in print on August 28, 2008, on page F7 of the New York edition.
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Stef
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Joined: 13 May 2015
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

I am here to give credit to the Australian airline that they are charging the same fare for the route of AUS to US, which they are charging for the other planes. The interior is perfectly amazing and I found all the facilities like quilts, bedding and other comfort things.
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