Environment 73 Stories

How an airline seat transformed into a fitnessproduct

Published

8th Jun, 2015

The entire interior of World Business Class is being renewed. This means; new carpeting, panel decorations, curtains, a full-flat seat, blankets, cushions and upholstery. But what more can we do with the ‘old’ materials? We let 14 students go nuts on the fabrics and let them turn it into Dutch Design.

Design Academy

It all started in a huge hangar at Schiphol Airport with the project Plane to Product in February. Fourteen students “Man and Identity” from Design Academy Eindhoven were invited for a tour at Schiphol. The cooperation between KLM and Design Academy Eindhoven is certainly not accidental. Industrial designer Hella Jongerius, not only put her signature within the interior of the new World Business Class and Economy Class, she graduated in 1993 at the Design Academy.  The tour ended in a large hall in which the students found a complete KLM World Business Class interior, ready to be dismounted.  TV screens, seats, carpets, seat belts, everything was up to be taken. When the students left the building only skeletons of the WBC seats were left behind.

Inspiring prototypes

The students had 12 weeks to craft new products using the materials they took from the hangar. The assignment was to design products that are useful while traveling and at least 70% of the prototype needed to be of recycled materials. At the end of the design process, the prototype products that came out were widely diverse: practical, surprising but all based on really strong thinking and good insights. Some examples are; exercise tools to stimulate activity during the flight, on-board slippers, a “privacy headpiece” and an analogue speaker for a mobile phone. Unfortunately the products are not for sale. The eight best designs were selected to feature in the window display at de Bijenkorf department store in Amsterdam June 1- 15, 2015. Plane to Product shows what design can do:  material that was about to be turned into waste was transformed into Dutch Design!

Recycling

But that is not all that is being done with the remnants of the “old” World Business Class. KLM’s entire Boeing 747 fleet has already been equipped with the new World Business Class, and the 777-200/300 fleet is currently being renovated. The KLM Technical Department has a location at Schiphol called the Scrap Plaza, where the recyclability of all sorts of aircraft materials is assessed. Materials like iron and aluminium are sold to certified processing plants for further recycling.

Sustainability as key principle

Sustainability is a key principle in all new developments and designs at KLM. This is borne out by the new World Business Class, which is both innovative and sustainable. The new interior has carpeting that consists partly of fibres from discarded uniforms once worn by KLM stewardesses. By contracting Hella Jongerius to design its new World Business Class, KLM has assured itself of first-rate Dutch design that acknowledges and celebrates our Dutch roots.

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