Japan Airlines has just released its latest range of amenities and soft products for its domestic and international travellers. The latest designs have been brought to life by Japanese design studio Nendo with a nod to the Tsurumaru crane logo that is synonymous with the carrier. As part of the process, the studio deconstructed the logo into a traditional origami crane as its starting point, the symbolism of which is of peace, prayer, and the spirit of hospitality.

The studio then took two key elements from the origami bird, it’s beak and wings to create two visual accents for virtually every amenity element. A pointed tag symbolises the wings while the head creates triangle-like corner details. There’s something beautifully utilitarian and simplistic about the approach, which certainly reflects perfectly Japanese product design trends.

The tags emulating the paper crane’s wings are used for items such as cardigans, eye masks, slippers, and cutlery bands while blankets, tablecloths, napkins, and other rectangular fabric items bear the detail of a folded corner.

In a complete design exercise the studio brought in extra dimension by deconstructing the crane further and analysing the fold patterns and bringing them to life in three-dimensional geometric form.

A new pattern has become the base design language for the entire dining experience, with the element on menu cards, place settings, serviceware, and other elements such as amenity pouches.

To expedite and differentiate service, the number and colours of folds within the design vary so the cabin crew may distinguish the menu cards, which may differ from flight to flight.

In a playful gamification of the design, the fold lines, on the diagonal, create a grid to place plates and dining elements on, allowing for a mix-and-match approach to service design. While creating unity for the dining service, it also allows for the flexibility that the changing menus of JAL needs.

JAL has recently fallen on a simplistic duotone approach to its colour palette, deeply rooted in reds, white and shades of grey through to black. Although the process colour to accentuate the red paper crane motif was grey initially, the team identified that the precise nature of the brand would cause problems with exact colour matching when menus and other items were produced in various locations around the world.

As such, the airline opted for a range of seven distinct greys, to be combined in appropriate mediums and places in a range of cool and warmer tones, but the approach to their usage was just as exacting as the rest of this delicately precise amenity range.

Within dining, cool and warm greys differentiate Japanese food from Western food. A visual aid for crew as much as a detailing for the passenger experience that will be unexpected. As well as food service, the greys extend to different cabin classes. However, to create depth and interest, each cabin class utilised a range of colours.

By doing so, there is connection and constancy throughout the cabin classes, with each cabin class benefiting from some of the tones from either class above and below. Therefore on entering the business class cabin, you’ll see the soft product gradually shift from a dark slate grey to a warmer stone like colour as you head through premium economy to economy.

However, in First class, passengers are given a less sharp modern look in comparison to Business class, instead, opting for a calming, warm grey for elements including pyjamas.

Creating consistency for products that could feature across all classes, such as masks, earplugs, tissues, toothbrushes, and other consumables was performed in the graphical design elements, allowing for a range of tones to avoid the risk of inconsistent colouring during manufacturing.

The utilitarian design of JALs soft products is strikingly utilitarian, not dissimilar from the internationally recognised brands like UniQlo or Muji, creating an international sense of familiarity, however, the level of design thought and consideration behind the range makes the product range effortlessly elegant.

The Big Tsurumaru Picture

Photography by Akihiro Yoshida

Posted by:Jonny Clark

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