Ultra-Modern Jet Cabins Inspired by Art & Nature

How are the industry’s leading designers pushing the boundaries of design for private jet cabins, and where are they getting their inspiration from? Rebecca Applegarth spoke to F/LIST’s Melanie Prince and Dassault’s Frédérique Houssard to discover more…

Rebecca Applegarth  |  03rd October 2023
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    Rebecca Applegarth
    Rebecca Applegarth

    Rebecca Applegarth has been brought up around Aviation for as long as she can remember. As a current...

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    F/LIST Shapeshifter Cabin Design Concept

    It’s truly incredible to consider the inspiration behind today’s luxurious, yet practical business jet cabins. With seemingly endless options for materials, textures, colors and combinations available to aircraft owners, just about anything is possible as to how jet owners can refurbish their cabin.

    But for the leading cabin specialists, that’s not enough. They are looking to push the boundaries of what is possible even further.

    As you would expect, the inspiration behind today’s ultra-modern jet interiors is diverse, drawing from some unusual, yet ingenious sources and interpreting flowing form and structure for the limited confines of an aircraft’s interior.

    F/LIST: Using Nature to Inspire Private Jet Cabins

    An excellent example would be the cradle structure of a cow parsley flower head, as featured in a recent AvBuyer advert from F/LIST. Pictured next to the cow parsley image was a cabin seat concept bearing a striking resemblance.

    F/LIST has a long heritage of working with natural resources and adapting them for interior use. From the beginning, sustainability was important. According to Head of Innovation, Melanie Prince, “valuing nature and the materials offered, and aiming to use every part was ingrained from the start.

    “For the longest time, we have worked with wood, stone, and now have developed our bio-based materials that optimize renewable natural resources and enable designers to create intriguing new cabin designs”, she adds.

    “This mix of the heritage of working with raw materials and combining them with technology and contemporary skills is where the inspiration for the ad came from. It’s respecting the delicate balance of nature, and the need to support sustainable cabin design, where form meets function.”

    According to Prince, F/LIST’s stone flooring shows how the company thinks differently. The stone flooring is ideal for use in galleys, bathrooms, and entryways. But with a thickness of just a few millimeters, “Owners don’t add weight to their aircraft but enjoy the beauty of a marble or quartz effect.”

    F/LIST’s Future Lab (F/LAB) is an internal think tank that encourages creative thinking, collaboration, and experimentation across the company, and is populated by skilled craftspeople from diverse disciplines, including the jewellery, furniture, architecture, and other sectors.

    Prince refers to the F/LAB team as “our alchemists” who “push the boundaries of technology while incorporating our heritage of working with natural products to create a portfolio of sustainable, bio-based materials that support product creation while adhering to circular economy principles.” The three principal materials produced by F/LAB recently are Linfinium, Aenigma, and Whisper Leather (pictured left).

    “F/LAB Whisper Leather repurposes corn starch and viscose into a supple, durable material that can be used for upholstery and is made of up to 75% biobased materials,” Prince explains. The super-light, ultra-smooth fabric has a delicate, yet robust structure.

    F/LAB Linfinium, meanwhile, is based on linseed oil and according to Prince adds new functionality, “breathing organic dynamism into seemingly static surfaces”.

    Linfinium was the unexpected result of experimentation with morphing countertops. Offering customizable flexibility, firmness, and durability, Prince argues Linfinium will enable design features that have never been seen before for any hard surface in the cabin. “The material can quite literally change the shape of the cabin,” she says.

    Last, but not least, F/LAB Aenigma material blends jewelry skills with cutting-edge chemistry and aerospace techniques to deliver a versatile material that can take many forms, shapes, and colors. Parametric designs, textured glistening surfaces and replica shagreen in a dazzling array of tones are all possible.

    “This was the first product from F/LIST's multi-disciplinary innovation team and is aptly named,” Prince highlights. “The incredible blend has evolved into a technical, glamorous material that would be as at home on the catwalk as on the runway.”

    Turning Cabin Concepts into Reality

    It’s one thing cooking up an array of exciting, yet whimsical concepts for the aircraft cabin, but getting those concepts off the design board and into real aircraft cabins requires a great deal of effort.

    When looking to create something a little bit different, Prince says discussions will begin in the very early creative process with the aircraft manufacturer or MRO shop. “This is where we gather preliminary feedback and asses the customer’s current and future needs.

    “We encourage our team to think ‘alternatively’ as part of the creative process, and then we begin to work on the practical creation elements of the concept. This rigorous iterative process can take months and even years to achieve the final product.”

    Experimentation is an important part of the process, as highlighted through the creation of Linfinium (left), but F/LIST also follows a strategy guided by a commitment to sustainability, according to Prince.

    Generally, the pioneering processes are complex, and involve a myriad of design reiterations – but once F/LIST reaches the “point where theory becomes a reality”, she says the prototypes are created and rigorous testing begins. 

    For this, F/LIST conducts its own in-house validation tests, but also provides certification support to the customer, completion center, OEM or refurbishment facility.

     “We repeatedly test our products for durability and put them through flammability, heat, and humidity testing – so the validation is extremely rigorous,” she assures.

    As linear and straightforward as the process seems, however, Prince assures it is often more ‘multi-layered’ and with some products taking up to two years to develop to a standard F/LIST is confident will meet the specific customer requirements.

    “Clients are ultimately limited only by their imagination as our F/LIST Shapeshifter concept inspires an alternate design world,” Prince concludes.

    The F/LIST Shapeshifter video demonstrates the numerous possibilities within a cabin to the client, proving a useful tool for designers to see how much freedom they have to think differently about the cabin interior.

    Dassault: The Art of a Private Jet Cabin Concept

    “The world of aviation is the world of travel at its very best,” says Frédérique Houssard, Head of Dassault’s Falcon Colors, Material and Finishing (CMF) Design Studio.

    As a theme of ‘travel at its very best’, Dassault takes inspiration from art, culture, meeting new people and traversing new lands, and seeks to apply these to its Falcon jet cabin designs.

    “Art and nature are omnipresent in our environment,” Houssard shares of her team. “These may reflect or mimic form, function, aesthetics, ergonomics, and experiences – each color, motif, material, and texture are the bricks that build and personalize Falcon interiors.”

    Dassault recently developed sustainable marquetry (displayed on the cabin bulkhead, pictured above) with one of its suppliers that unites art and nature, according to Houssard. “Some of our wood samples are too small to cover an entire furniture surface, but we can mix them with others for a unique effect.

    “Everything is used: no waste, instead a piece of art,” she highlights. “To make it work, we have an indispensable collaboration with our suppliers and artisans.”

    If the shell of a Falcon jet cabin is considered a blank canvas, then everything applied to, and installed within, that shell work together to determine whether the result is a masterpiece. An excellent example could be the award-winning Falcon 10X cabin (left), which one reviewer with an artistic leaning suggested reflects the work of 20th Century Dutch painter Piet Mondrian.

    “The chosen color palette, the proportions of colored surfaces create the tone and theme of an interior,” Houssard explains. “The choice of materials – wood, stone, wool, and surface patterns – are part of that tapestry, as are textures.

    “Are glossy or matte finishes desired? Are natural surfaces important? Their combination and lighting contribute to creating different atmospheres,” she shares.

    Overcoming the Challenges of Cabin Concepts

    As with F/LIST, Dassault’s interiors go through different phases of creation, with members of Dassault’s CMF Design Studios having their own method, according to Houssard. “But the client’s needs and vision are always the starting point,” she says.

    The exploration and collection of innovative materials and bold colors are essential first steps that are assembled on a mood board to provide at a glance the desired atmosphere, or the story you want to tell. A 3D simulation of all these ingredients on cabin surfaces completes this stage.

    Photo-realistic renderings then help communicate the concept to the client and to internal teams. “By assembling these materials and finishes, you start to see the unique signature of Dassault,” Houssard says.

    “A Falcon interior is distinctive within the industry.” The result is a collaborative, multidisciplinary effort, fed by the expertise of the different crafts and talents that are brought together for a project.

    “It’s precisely these exchanges, these steps, that make it possible to move from concept to reality,” Houssard argues.

    In Summary…

    Though according to Katharina List-Nagl at F/LIST it will take time for some of these new and exciting concepts to become part of the accepted interior design culture, she is nevertheless confident they will eventually become the norm, “at which time we’ll have to change the game again!”

    The lesson is clear, though. Owners of private jets considering a refurbishment anytime soon should not be afraid to dream big, incorporating elements of nature, art, culture or even personal identity that’s important to you.

    Contact your MRO shop with enough lead-time and just see what is available as the result of the ingenuity of the industry’s cutting-edge design studios.

    More information from:
    Dassault Falcon: www.dassaultfalcon.com
    F/LIST: http://f-list.at

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