AIN Blog: The Idea Is Not To Try To Fool People into Thinking They Aren’t Flying

 - April 21, 2011, 6:18 AM

I’ve been covering the Aircraft Interiors Expo for AIN since the first show opened in Cannes, France, a decade ago, and earlier this month, I covered the latest show at its Hamburg, Germany venue, where it has been held since 2002.

The problem with the Cannes venue was dimensions of the exhibit hall, as the expo was crammed into the basement of the Palais de Festivals et des Congrés like Arnold Schwarzenegger into a pair of skinny jeans. Believe me, the name of the center was far grander than reality. Many exhibitors found the ceiling too low to erect their entire exhibits.

The Hamburg Messe Center is a great improvement–large and open with room to expand, as the show has done every year since it moved there.

It was at the show in Cannes that I first heard an aircraft cabin designer tell his listeners, “The idea is not to try to fool people into believing they aren’t flying. It is to make them absolutely comfortable with fact that they are.”

He was discussing cabin design in business aircraft, and this remark has stayed with me. I’ve used it often since then and would dearly love to credit him, but I forgot his name long ago. Nevertheless, in the years since, it seems the completion and refurbishment shops have adopted that advice, with some remarkable success.

This year, I came across AirJet Designs, a relatively new interior design firm that was introducing for the first time a series of proposals for the Chinese market. The cabin was beyond eye-catching and blended the finest of French, Italian and Chinese traditions with modern style. The firm has already opened an office in Shanghai.

And there was Loher Raumexklusiv from Wallersdorf-Haidlfing, Germany, which introduced proposals for what it described as “a passenger-friendly galley” for an A340. The centerpiece of this Art Deco galley is a gleaming mirrored bar, and behind it a full kitchen and full set of appliances hidden behind flexible glass panels finished in a dark, faux onyx.

Now some of you may be thinking, “Yeah. Sure. Like anybody is going to buy this.” In rebuttal, I offer a striking Falcon 900 interior by Pierre Mauger from EAD Aerospace in Toulouse. When I saw the design on a 42-inch high-def monitor at Aircraft Interiors Expo two years ago, I was impressed by what I thought was a computer rendering, and told Mauger this. He laughed. “This is a photograph of the actual interior,” he said, unable to hide his pride in the finished product: Art Deco from end to end, stained glass, bold geometric shapes, strong colors and gleaming brass.

I’ve thought about the numerous shows I’ve attended, and the hundreds of interior designs and new technology I’ve been fortunate enough to witness. And the more I thought about it, the more I’ve come to think that the French proverb might be better turned around to read, “The more things stay the same, the more they change.” And wonderfully, I might add
After all, “The idea is not to try to fool people into believing they aren’t flying. It is to make the absolutely comfortable with fact that they are.”