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10. Tahiti Nui
This livery is great in it’s natural habitat of the colours of the pacific. It’s a naturally warm and modern livery that encapsulates the natural wonders of the Pacific islands. It has clean bold lines and shapes that elegantly follow the shape of the plane whilst also incorporating more fluid and subtle elements such as the ripple on the tail or the flower motif in the tail. The striking white and blue design is fresh and always turns heads when it arrives in LAX or CDG.

09. Porter Airlines
From Winkreative, the brainchild of Tyler Brulé, famous father of publications such as Wallpaper and Monocle, this strikingly simple yet powerful livery that goes beyond it’s metal canvas. It’s much more than a livery, playing to the design agencies strength of creating powerful brands that run across all printed and web material as well as hard products. It’s logo is simple yet it’s repetition on the tail fin echoes the nature of the airline, for the repeat business travellers that use the airline time and time again. Very modern and effortless, something as clean as this shouldn’t be forgotten as a brilliant design.

08. Kulula.com
This South African carrier is a real game changer for the continent, offering some modern humour into its fleet. Whilst each one of its frames holds the fresh green and white colour scheme, each one has its unique design with easy graphic elements to add some fun into their 737 fleet. From ‘This Way Up’ to arrows pointing at the cockpit with the phrase ‘Co-Captain (he’s the other pilot on the PA system)’ these are created to draw a smile. Perhaps also to alleviate any concern for those nervous fliers. It does add a sense of ease about the airline that is confident in it’s safety.

07. Avianca
A bright, vibrant and rich colour scheme adorns this relatively modern fleet in South America. Picking colours that have significance to the South America continent help give it a strong identity around the world. Still a relatively unknown airline in Europe and Northern America, however a big player in its Southern cousin. The subtlety of the tail fin’s colour and pattern is fantastic and the gradient use is refreshing from all the simple block colour graphics on most airline fins. The logotype is also simplistic, but it makes it timeless and this will help this livery continue into the future without much need for updating.

06. Korean Air
Undoubtedly one of the easiest colour schemes to identify in the sky. A really refreshing and simple powder blue and white scheme with the Taegeuk ‘Ying-Yang’ symbol on the tail are so powerful and striking, there really doesn’t need to be any fancy complications on the aircraft. The colour matches the interior of the cabin too, with cabin crew and the soft furnishings only further enhancing the brand image.

05. Swiss 
Another entry from Tyler Brulé here in the Top 10. Not surprising due to his simplicity in the ethos behind aviation design. This has recently been simplifies further, and its cleanliness is the epitome of Swiss design. The logo is in essence the national flag and nothing could be better for a national carrier. The white airframe is a daring choice of colour, as the brightness of the white only shows up dirt and oil streaks from the plane. Unless they are regularly cleaned (which thankfully they appear to be), they would soon look like the dirty fleet of Air France (one of the main reasons they aren’t included in the Top 10 here.)

04. Asiana Airlines 
A truly wonderful design. The height of modernity, and it’s use of grey-taupe and brighter red yellow and blues shows a unique look and feel and also gives a real sense of the airline being a luxury business player. The tail fin design reminds me of the petals of a flower and the overlay of colours gives the design a more delicate touch. The one thing that really shows up on this concept is the simple red arrow on the fuselage and this really counters what would feel an unbalanced and over simplified design.

03. Hawaiian Airlines
Still one of the most elegant and beautiful airlines around. The addition of Pualani (roughly translated, Heavenly Flower) on the tail has really given it a historic and culturally connected image. However the use of the leaf motif and the bright purple and pink colours make it feel exotic and modern. I’m glad they’ve used a custom typeface that mimics something a little more ‘Pacific’ compared to it’s North American counterparts and it’s clean white frame on which the designs are placed really lifts the whole look of the aircraft. There really isn’t anything like seeing the fleet from your plane’s window in Honolulu to make you feel like you’ve arrived somewhere really special.

02. Pluna
This little South American airline I stumbled upon by accident, when doing some research for my previous company when it just started flying, and I was taken aback by its livery. It’s really something very special and has been thought through wonderfully. Somehow encapsulating an Escher style approach to the design. Each aircraft takes a slightly different vibrant acid colour to its livery but using the same pattern on the tail. The flock of birds give the airplane a sense of lightness and movement and quite simply, elegant. I’m looking forward to seeing one of these in real life.

01. American
A natural winner really, striking and long lasting, this livery hasn’t really been touched or altered for almost 50 years. Designed by Massimo Vignelli, international design guru of his time, this timeless and simple livery has survived the years, partly due to it’s striking colour usage, but perhaps mainly due to the polished metal finish on the fleet, rather than the fully painted fleets that 99% of the rest of the world uses. I can’t see this livery dating and even if it does, it will become a part of retro Americana that brings forward a sense of warmth and familiarity that will only enhance its use. One thing I look forward to seeing is how the airline will continue to adorn its aircraft with the new wave of composite materials being used in airframe construction. What will AA do?

Posted by:Jonny Clark

11 replies on “TheDesignAir Top 10 Liveries 2012

  1. I have to say, I cannot fault this list. I agree whole heartedly. I know the guy who design the Tahiti Nui livery. He’s very proud of it. He did Adam Air aswell, hence the similar style tails.

  2. The Swiss design is beautifully efficient and fresh. I would love to see Lufthansa’s design freshened up in the same way.

  3. That american livery doesn’t deserve first but the new american livery does. But this article is from 2012 when the new livery wasn’t in american’s fleet yet

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