Priestmangoode, UK based design firm have just revealed their fantastic new interiors for South African Airways latest short haul Airbus fleet. The studio worked in collaboration with The Brand Union, Johannesburg, South Africa, a brand consultancy, to develop a new brand identity and experience for the leading African airline.
Kim Thipe, Head of Marketing at South African Airways explains “The aircraft re-design forms part of a larger project that addresses the overall visual language of SAA across its passenger touch-points”. Luke Hawes, Director at Priestmangoode, continues “Until now, SAA have had minimal brand continuity throughout their interior products. The purchase of new narrow body aircraft gave SAA an opportunity to build a brand platform with a distinct look and feel. While many airlines miss this opportunity and rely on industry suppliers, it is absolutely to SAA’s credit that they approached both specialist designers and branding consultants. This is a significant step for the airline. The new look is one of sophisticated elegance with colour, pattern, and material highlights, and puts South African Airways in a position to compete with the world’s most stylish airlines. The timeless interior displays confidence and comfort. Its design reflects the nation, which will appeal both at home and globally, and offers great commitment to the passenger experience.”
We are mightily impressed with the interiors that Priestmangoode have produced. Whilst this isn’t about new seats, or new electronic improvements such as IFE etc, this project showcases how simple attention to detail and the use of texture can create something very special, and very unique. Whilst the only surfaces seemingly untouched by this elegant redesign are the walls of the aircraft, every other surface has been carefully considered. From the bulkheads which offer clever three-dimensional thinking, from wrap-around graphics through to the smallest of details, such as African inspired colour-coded prints, hidden behind the headrest in both economy and business class, this cabin refresh is a delight to behold.
The brief was to create an interior language to represent South African Airways as a national carrier and, as Brand guardians for the continent, symbolizing Africa. Guidelines specified that 80% of the look should be inspired by contemporary South African culture and the remaining 20% from the wider African continent. This has been achieved. The warm colour tones and touches of anthracite found in the seats and curtains, are offset by a cool sky-blue strip along the overhead compartments and bold reds and blues in the seat detailing. The bulkheads offer wonderful carved textures and even the arrow found in the logo is echoed in the stitch work in the seat backs.
The curtain, brand panel and magazine rack feature bespoke designed materials inspired by African craft heritage. The curtain features a geometric woven diamond pattern, while the wall foil features a linear weave design. The back of the magazine rack showcases a subtle, burnt orange foil featuring a pattern reminiscent of traditional African printed fabrics.
The customized Geven “Comoda” business class seats offer large IFE Screens and leg-rests, offering 39″ seat pitch and more importantly, just a 2 x 2 seating configuration, compared to the 2 x 3 currently offered in the rest of its short haul fleet. In economy, there is the standard 31-32″ seat pitch. What’s more, exclusive to thedesignair.net, we know that SAA will be rolling out the interior aesthetic to their long haul fleet too.
Myriam Bracke, Executive Manager Product Development at SAA says: ‘As the national carrier, the SAA team is immensely proud of its first true South African and African inspired aircraft interior and is looking forward to welcoming our customers on board’.