London based JPA Design has had a long working history with Singapore Airlines, starting back in 1998 when they first launched the 747 first class suite. Since then the creative studio has tackled a variety of cabin designs for one of the world’s leading airlines, including the 777 and first ever production business class seat for SIA’s A380. We take a minute out of JPA design director Tim Manson’s hectic schedule to find out a little more about Singapore Airlines new Premium Economy cabin being released later on this year. If you didn’t see our initial story on the Premium Economy seat, you can check it out here.
Hi Tim, thank you for taking the time to talk to TheDesignAir. It is great that Singapore Airlines has finally introduced a premium economy cabin, but what was their brief? Was it to create a game changing product, or to stick to a commercially proven concept?
The brief was to design the best possible passenger experience within the allowable customisable range. Following passenger and trend profiling, JPA Design worked with SIA’s product Innovation team towards making the seat ‘the place to be’.
What brought the bold colour elements to the seat?
Singapore Airlines has a progressive design mind set and with this new product, Singapore Airlines had the chance to make a new statement. As such they were keen to explore new and exciting CMF (Colour/Material/Finish) opportunities. The bigger idea was to enhance the individuality of this new cabin class with a bespoke contemporary and stylish design.
There has been comment on the airline adopting two different premium economy seats, specifically with a different seat for the A350s, what can we expect from that seat, a similar look or something completely different?
For Singapore Airlines passengers, the Premium Economy experience will be more than just the seat itself and whilst the seats have differences they will have a very similar feeling over the range of aircraft it is installed in. This ranges from the seat features, comfort and convenience through to the service as well as other associated benefits such as more extensive food and beverage choices, priority check in and additional Kris Flyer benefits.
The seats seem fairly conventional for a premium economy seat (compared to unique products such as Air New Zealand’s Space Seat), is this because it’s tried and tested and proven?
The seats are optimised for space, comfort and fleet-wide compatibility. From a passengers perspective they are anything but conventional. The comfort, amenities and quality detailing, such as the unique stitching patterns on the fully leather seats are inspired by luxury goods and are significant improvements over and above an Economy seat. The seat also features a 13.3″ full-HD monitor which is the biggest screen in today’s Premium Economy Class.
What is the future for Premium Economy in Asia, as Cathay has recently announced it is removing Premium Economy from certain routes?
Asia is a very broad region with a wide range of cultures and countries. Most published statistics project substantial growth in flying for leisure and business. In a fast changing and growing marketplace all competing airlines will have to continually assess their product range and question if it meets their passengers needs. Singapore Airlines have calculated the economics of this class very carefully and they clearly believe this is the right product for its market-leading position.
What was the biggest challenge designing the new seat?
Actually the comfort of the seat was quite a challenge, as SIA were particularly keen to create a seat that was comfortable for all aspects of the seated position. Great care was taken to ensure the recline angles, cushions, covers, footrests, and headrests were easy to use and comfortable.
What is the best element of this new seat from a designers perspective?
From JPA Design’s perspective the best element is the streamlining of the seat aesthetics and mastering the gentle curves. The bold asymmetric CMF arrangement is quite special too; the overall cabin effect will be quite memorable. From a functional approach, there is a great stowage space for passengers to also discover behind the magazine pocket.
From 9 August 2015, customers travelling on select Singapore Airlines flights from Singapore to Sydney will be the first to experience the airline’s latest cabin class. Premium economy will eventually be rolled out to other destinations served by the Airline’s Airbus A380s and Boeing 777-300ERs, as well as their Airbus A350s, including Beijing, Delhi, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, London, Mumbai, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo and Zurich in the latter part of 2015 and early 2016.