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Airlines

Covering the comfort levels

Aircraft furnishings are an often overlooked element of onboard comfort, but their quality and performance play a key role, as Bernie Baldwin discovers
 

At IATA’s annual media day, recently held in Geneva, the Association’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Alexandre de Juniac, pointed out how passengers nowadays have become unwilling to pay for comfort on board aircraft. He bemoaned the fact that customers expect airlines to offer exceedingly low prices whilst also providing a high quality onboard product.

 

While that reference to the onboard product likely places greater significance on inflight entertainment, connectivity, and the food and beverage service, the importance of comfortable seats and noise-reducing furnishings must not be forgotten. As with anything in the area of interior design, trends of preferences appear in carpet and upholstery design. These trends further differ between airlines with different business models and between premium and economy cabins.


Switzerland-based Lantal specialises in the planning and designing of aircraft interiors, using its in-house collections of materials and designs or – should the client require – with specific custom developments. Its product range incorporates seat covers, headrests, wall coverings, carpets, curtains, and includes its patented Pneumatic Comfort System cushioning for seats.


Ermira Fetahu, Brand Communication Executive at Lantal, has been observing the recent requests received from airlines and has identified a number of trends: “In our orders for upholstery, small patterned, uniform and plain-coloured textiles are clearly preferred. At the same time, fabrics with effect yarns are also popular.


“Our Conceptual Forecast 2017 collection, for example, introduced a new, 3D-style seat fabric with a unique look. The technical yarn used in this fabric confers fullness to the materials. This feature provides great 3D effects, which allows for the creation of relief-like structured designs,” she continues. “Because the rest of the design is so simple, such effects are popular to give fabrics a high-quality look.”


At the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2017 in Hamburg, the Conceptual Forecast 2017 collection caught the attention of UK-based design house tangerine. In its follow-up ‘Cross sector trend report’ from the show, tangerine declared that Lantal had “taken a ‘colour burst’ approach to their latest collection”. The design company added: “With bright colours and larger knitted patterns, they are now showcasing a bolder and braver approach to the conventional colour palette seen in cabins. We hope airlines take note and inject a bit more colour and energy into their brand palette.”


“Carpet trends are moving in the same direction,” Fetahu notes. “Here too, small patterned, simple designs are in demand. And also carpets with a certain three-dimensionality are currently clearly popular. But, of course, there are also exceptions, and some customer orders clearly deviate from these trends.”


The Lantal executive highlights that airlines which offer more than one class “always try to build in a visible difference between the premium and economy class, especially in terms of quality. The overall impression in the premium class is often more elegant and refined than in the economy.”


Returning to tangerine’s ‘Cross sector trend report’, the other two companies highlighted by the design house were Irish company, Botany Weaving Mill, and Schneller, which is headquartered in Ohio, US, and focuses on decorative laminate products.

 

Commenting on Botany Weaving, it says, “The mill has shown a larger emphasis on colours this year, together with larger, irregular patterns and precision-knitted fabrics. We see inspiration from Nike’s very popular fly-knit apparel and shoes influencing their collection.”


Turning its focus to Schneller, tangerine reports, “[The company] has developed new technologies to create a highly flexible tedlar (the decor sheet often used on seat shells, bulkheads, etc.) that can be heated and then wrapped onto difficult shapes that have traditionally been painted. This offers more options to extend new trim and finish designs onto areas that have only been painted surfaces in the past.” >>

 


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