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KLM World Business Class cabin interior

  • Year: 2013
  • Material: Various
  • Dimensions: Various
  • Commission: KLM
  • Production: KLM
  • Category: Industrial production

Until recently, the World Business Class was conceived primarily as the perfect workspace, ensuring that no time was wasted between continents. And there’s a lot to be said for its many standard features: convenient storage, sturdy tray tables, comfortable seats. The atmosphere is reminiscent of an open-plan office: uniform, with many shades of gray, cool plastic materials, and impersonal fabrics. In other words: a little dreary.

Jongerius questions whether today’s travellers are really looking for that kind of atmosphere, and whether it still reflects the way they’d like to spend their flight. Modern communication technologies have profoundly altered the way we work. In 2013, working usually involves non-stop exchange by telephone and internet, an open form of communication that remains next to impossible on an aircraft. We must therefore rethink the opportunities provided to air travellers. Why shouldn’t airlines open the door to the opposite of the traditional experience, inviting their passengers to use their extra time for rest and relaxation?

Jongerius’s design is focused entirely on the passenger experience. Air travellers often feel like insignificant cogs in a well-oiled machine, where every seat is identical except for the number. Jongerius hopes to give travellers back their lost individuality, on many levels. That requires a smart balance between pragmatic engineering and subjective, individual desires. In parallel with her research on traveller experience, Jongerius also investigated KLM’s unique identity, an integral part of Dutch cultural heritage.

1. Simplification: Keeping on-board distractions to a minimum; forging unity among aesthetic elements; avoiding conflicting signals; offering a fresh, contemporary look.

2. Softening: Making a homey environment through warmer, more diverse colours; reducing the use of plastic by introducing other materials; replacing plastic with surfaces of greater tactile interest.

3. Enrichment: Creating personal ‘thrones’; giving material form to individual spaces; evoking a feeling of luxury through craftsman-like details; presenting a signature style through careful attention to all material aspects: textiles, patterns, and colours.

The only elements of the World Business Class that do not bear the ‘signature’ of Hella Jongerius are the ceiling, the walls, and the luggage bins. These are standard aircraft parts supplied by Boeing, the manufacturer. All the other permanent elements of the interior, including compartments, crew seats, and magazine bins, have been simplified as much as possible.

2013 HOMEWARD web from JongeriusLab on Vimeo

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