Air China, the second operator of the 747-8i passenger version, has just taken delivery of it’s new ‘Queen of the Skies’ with an interior designed by London based transport and hospitality design specialists, JPA Design. This is the same studio that brought one of the best seats to the skies, with the Singapore Airlines 777 Next Generation Seat.
This was a collaboration with renowned Chinese artist Mr. Han Meilin and features Mr. Han’s specially created artworks – ‘phoenix in flight and cloud’ as well as earthen tile patterns are referenced through the whole cabin.
Some may not realise, but the Air China logo designed back in 1985 by Han Mellin, not only symbolises a stylised Phoenix, also embodies the Latin characters ‘VIP.’ JPA have definitely taken the VIP experience to the skies, with their vision for a renewed and international carrier.
JPA has worked with Air China both on the ground and in the air, whilst paying homage to the airlines cultural heritage. “JPA have managed to created a fully cohesive design to unify the branding and colour schemes of Air China’s lounges and premium cabin interiors; this offers customers a seamless transition from the ground to the skies.” state JPA Design on their launch.
James Park, founder and principal of JPA Design also attends the welcoming ceremony in Beijing. He said: “With our design approach, JPA sets out to ensure that each element of the travel experience is considered, whether onboard or at the airport, so that passengers enjoy every part of their journey.”
In response to a trend of creating a truly culturally rooted passenger experience, JPA has created a culturally sensitive and user friendly product. All materials and finishes for seats, wall and divider wall laminates, curtains, carpeting, entrance areas, bar, stairwell area, colour and trim for lavatories and cabin lighting have been looked at by the studio. The aircraft includes the impressive and spacious First Class suites already found on Air China, designed by Acumen.
Sim Kim Chui, product innovation director at JPA Design and leading the Air China project states “In creating the new design for Air China, first and foremost it was important to harness the Chinese cultural element – the images of the phoenix and clouds – and project this internationally by crafting the images in a modern and contemporary way, in order to appeal to a global audience.”
“The design approach from the outset has been to integrate the look and feel of both the lounges and the cabins, ensuring that all the elements are thread through and the customer experiences a seamless journey.”
The new cabin interior design will also feature across Air China’s new fleet of fifteen B787-900s, which the Chinese national carrier will begin to take delivery of from 2016.
The design partnership between Mr. Mallin and JPA have extended further than just the hard product and soft finishes. JPA Design has created a set of inflight soft goods that compliments the airlines scheme, which includes designs for pillows, blankets, duvets, pyjamas, slippers, eyeshades and toiletry bags featuring the designs and patterns found in the cabin.
James Park added: “We are very proud to be working with Air China. There is an enormous amount of activity happening in the country and we are pleased to be at the heart of such an exciting time for aviation” He went on to say; “by collaborating closely with the airline and Mr. Han to capture its cultural heritage, we feel we have played an important part in helping the airline on its new journey to rebrand itself.”
Whilst the aircraft has maintained to refrain from using this flagship aircraft as a chance to change the carrier’s original livery concept, the aircraft doesn’t feel dated inside. Interestingly, Air China have utilised the space behind the L2 door for their First Class cabin, pushing the business class product into the traditionally prime real estate 747 nose-cone.
The concept of passenger space is key the 747’s success, with high ceilings and large open plan spaces. Light and bright cabin interiors feel grounded by rich and considered colour palettes with seats and carpets.
The patterns on the seats are inherently ‘Air China’, and whilst it may seem a little ‘OTT’ to the European and American markets, who normally expect simplistic design and texture in their branded experience, but we love the use of texture pattern and design through the cabin concepts, it helps reinforce a unique passenger experience for a large Chinese carrier.
Air China’s latest products, both lounge and 747-8i have helped lift the international profile of the carrier, opening it up to international consumers that have a high level of expectation for their passenger experience.