Let’s face it: Air travel, albeit fast and convenient, is not the poster child for comfort. Confined space, less-than-cushy seating, and even claustrophobic tendencies tend to come to mind. But Lufthansa hoped to eliminate these associations when it released a request for proposals for its new A380 air cabin concept. The means to provide its passengers with a more open-looking and homey-styled cabin, as well as a product that more closely resembled the architecture of the brand’s new Class Lounge at Frankfurt Airport, was found in a versatile design by Priestmangoode that created the perfect balance of openness and privacy.
“Our aim was to create a single design language allowing a seamless transition between airport lounge and aircraft,” says Luke Hawes, director at Priestmangoode. “At the time this type of approach was unique for premium aircraft seats, but it has resulted in a design that will stand the test of time.”
Priestmangoode is not by any means new to the Lufthansa brand—the firm has collaborated with the airline for 10 years, helping to develop the brand over that time—and knew that history and a sense of timelessness was important. “This space provides the feel of a high end European hotel, and we drew inspiration from those types of materials, including light gloss surfaces, timber finishes, leather colors used for lounge chairs and sofas,” says Hawes. The range of new hues from these materials, which include variations of leather, suede, wood, and marble-like laminate in caramel, champagne, chablis and grey-brown shades, resulted in the next, natural step for Lufthansa’s brand evolution, a more domestic cabin, which Hawes terms as “the next generation of on-board passenger experience.”
The new Lufthansa A380 flagship features a roomy design that boasts a spacious eight-seat, in-line configuration, which allows ease of access for passengers as they move from the seating area to the aisle and co-travelers to sit adjacent to each other in the center row, as well as provides uniform space for all seat locations. Each “seating environment,” which is the widest on any aircraft to date (55cm between the arms), houses its own seat and ottoman, that allows for storage and also functions as additional in-flight seating space. Additional storage is available in separate storage cabinets, located forward and aft of the seat. Seats can be transformed into a completely flat bed (207 cm in length).
The individual environments play on the open/closed cabin concept via privacy screens, which are able to be raised and lowered via a motorized button to create a “cocoon;” while sound-absorbing curtains, cabin lining, and flooring help create comfortable solitude. None of the partitions are fixed, allowing for ultimate usability and flexibility.
What’s important to Hawes is that the overall design has the potential to become an iconic statement for Lufthansa. He says, “I think the First Class Cabin design represents Lufthansa’s attention to detail and its ambition to provide a high-quality product across its entire intercontinental fleet. It is a statement of a highly functional design that looks deceptively simple and elegant but provides for every need of their passengers.”
Priestmangoode released the first of its design in June 2010, showcasing the firm’s continuing relationship with the brand. Lufthansa will roll out the First Class Cabin design, which currently is featured on all A380 planes, across the rest of its fleet of intercontinental flights, starting with the A330/340’s at the beginning of 2011, providing Priestmangoode with positive, “you’ve got it right” feedback.