Wooing the modern global traveller begins with impressions walking through the aircraft door, but is extends through to the fine detailing on a cushion or a personal touchscreen.
“Everything must flow,” says tangerine Creative Director Matt Round, “from the broad experience to the detailed design at the end of a customer’s finger-tips. For tangerine it’s about bringing a potent mix of creative vision and pragmatic logic to the whole project.”
Round led the tangerine team responsible for the redesign of Virgin Australia’s newly-launched A330 and 777 premium cabins. “The challenge was to infuse the spaces with sophistication and elegance that would help define the airline as a quality carrier offering outstanding service.”
The design team introduced a whole new look to the cabin, positioning it with “a premium feel” as Round puts it. “I was particularly keen to introduce a lot of texture because one the problems that current aircraft cabins have is there is so little variation in the surfaces because of the way that so many of the components are made.”
Particular consideration was given to how light and shadow play upon surfaces like the louvered privacy screens and the sparkle within the metallic paint on the adjacent surfaces, the combination of leather and fabric on the seat and the textures of curtains at the end of the cabin.
New lie-flat seats in business class, engineered by BE Aerospace, replaced the previous recliners and were heavily customised to give them a sense of international style and exclusivity.
“We considered as many aspects as we could,” says tangerine designer Martin Mo. “Everything was rethought – the side profile, the return wall and the seat itself. We did a lot of work on the covers and changed the seat divider. We changed the monitor detail. No detail was too small. We even made changes to the ventilation gaps to help achieve the right overall passenger experience.”
The colour palette, under the guidance of tangerine’s CMF expert Emma Partridge, introduced bold contrasts – warm metallics and black leathers, materials chosen to counteract the flat mono-tonal character of many aircraft cabins. This complements the smooth painted areas, incorporating a range of attractive finishes.
Every aspect of the interior was given deep consideration by tangerine: the bulkhead, storage spaces, wardrobes and all of the fabrics and carpets, were given the same detailed attention as everything else. Even the baby bassinets were remodelled, and now when cabin crew open a wardrobe they are greeted by an iridescent repeat pattern of the airline’s ‘flying maiden’ monogram lining the interior. “It is something really special for the cabin crew,” Matt Round says, “and adds to the sense that the whole space is valued and cherished.”
The business cabin also incorporates a distinctive bar area, developed by senior designer Dan Flashman, allowing passengers to relax away from their seats. The design involves interconnecting angles that break up the conventional cabin shape, bringing flair and modernity to the environment.
Premium economy passengers have access to a self-service snack area, introducing choice and freedom more often associated with business class cabins. New seating fabrics and leathers add to a quality experience, consistent with the business class offer but also differentiated from each other.
“The sophisticated new cabins are a testament to the fusion of ambition, collaboration and design forged by Virgin in Australia, BE Aerospace in North America and tangerine in London, creating outstanding experiences with a gravitational pull that draws customers towards a brand,” Round explains.
Virgin Australia Chief Executive Officer John Borghetti said: “We believe the sophisticated new suites will set a new standard in Business Class travel, not just in Australia but around the world.”