All photos courtesy of Priestmangoode.
In working on freelance projects, one of my favorites was writing about aircraft interiors design firm Priestmangoode about their work for the world’s major airlines for the Airline Passenger Experience magazine. The UK-based firm recently took the wraps off a new cabin interiors for South African Airways’ narrow body fleet of Airbus A320s. The studio worked in collaboration with Johannesburg’s The Brand Union to develop a new brand identity and experience for SAA.
“We had known the team at South African Airways for some time. The purchase of a new fleet of A320 aircraft gave them an opportunity to invest in a new cabin design, as up until then, there was little continuity throughout their interior product,” said Priestmangoode spokeswoman Anna Meyer. “The Brand Union had been appointed as ‘brand guardians’ for the airline. Our expertise in the aviation industry made us the ideal partner for the project.”
This particular design was about applying an identity to surfaces, and bringing the SAA brand onboard the aircraft, all within a very short time frame, so looking at brand panels, seat fabrics and finishes, bulkheads etc., said Meyer. “The brief was for the design to be 80 percent South African and 20 percent African and to position SAA as brand guardians for the continent,” she explained. “We researched contemporary architecture and fashion and trends, alongside traditional crafts and local culture to create a concise visual language to apply across all passenger touch points.” This project had a very fast turnaround, around 15 months from start to finish, she added.
The partners chose a color palette of gold and anthracite with lively details. Inspired by the country’s people and wealth of history, the palette contrasts the dark anthracite of contemporary South African architecture and cityscapes with the rich saturated golden tones of winter sun and earthen landscapes, according to Priestmangood. Highlight colors such as burnt red and blues signify the ethnic color burst of civilization within the landscape. This offers vibrant, yet subtle notes of color in the cabin through reveal details, brand panels, and feature stitching.
Pattern was central to the materials and finishes across the interiors. Inspiration was taken from traditional African crafts, textiles, basket weaving and furniture. Three key patterns were identified: geometric woven diamond, geometric linear weaves and ribbed herringbone. These patterns were developed by Priestmangoode and The Brand Union for application throughout the cabin, leading to a truly unique and standout product.
Twenty aircraft will be delivered over the next three years, said Meyer. “Among others, we’ve worked with Lufthansa, United Airlines,TAM Airlines, THAI Airways International, Swiss, Turkish Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Kingfisher Airlines, Jet Airways and Virgin Atlantic,” said Meyer. “We also work directly with manufacturers including Airbus, Boeing and Embraer.”