Airplane seating is such a strange and challenging category of furniture design. The designer needs to create a one-size-fits-all chair that is adjustable, has on-board storage for literature and a folding table, built-in controls for A/V and/or lighting, and must be designed so that (in theory at least) it can be regularly cleaned. And it all has to fit in a very tightly-regulated footprint, for passengers who are steadily getting larger.
Air New Zealand designed this "Spaceseat" that is going into production as the Zenith by UK-based aircraft furniture manufacturer Contour Aerospace. In an effort to provide Premium Economy travelers with a more Business-Class-like experience, the center seats are angled outwards to provide more space.
While that sounds great for those seated in the center of the plane, however, the window-side seats appear awful. Note what looks like a complete lack of legroom for the passenger against the wall.
On a more radical note, Contour rolled out this Air Lair concept, designed by British design consultancy Factory Design, at this year's Aircraft Interiors Expo in Germany. Intended for Business/First-Class travelers, the pods are stagger-stacked for space efficiency and meant to provide a cocoon-like experience.
My first reaction is skepticism—I can't picture people climbing in and out of these things, and where do their bags go?—but I think it's meant to be more of a convention hall attention-getter and thought-provoker, in the manner of a concept car, rather than an exercise in practicality.
And if you think the Air Lair is strange, check out what Factory Design and Contour came up with for last year's Expo—a concept called NFW, or Not For Wimps:
It seems hugely impractical and completely bereft of any real-world considerations, but as Factory Design's Adam White mentions in the video, their brief was "Make it stand out."
My question to you readers is, do you think these kinds of pie-in-the-sky design experiments have any merit? Neither of the prototypes in the videos can have been cheap to produce; do you feel the client is getting the right kind of bang for the buck?