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1   Airborne Cafe - Thomas Chatfield on a range of exciting subjects 

7   Design Q / JetZign Feature /  The Incredible Lightness 

11  Designer Series - The North America Roster

18  Sensory Design - Designing For The Senses / Cristina Scarlata 

26  Automotive Design  - The Holy Grail of Influence for Jet Cabins

31  Yachtspace - Nuvolari Lenard’s enduring legacy

39  From Fantasy To Fabrication - Fain Models 

46  Aircraft Chairs - Five Top Designers on Where They're Headed

Back in the day, collaborations were something two or more foundations or research groups engaged in. The notion, and in fact the reality, is that when two or more entities join forces in an open and cooperative way, the objectives are generally realized more quickly - that a collective win is always a bigger win. But until roughly the mid-nineties, private enterprise, for the most part, had no such notions. They had no aspirations to collaborate with anyone (or certainly another company) outside their own. What we have is ours . . . and what you have is yours - unless we get a chance to steal it. There were exceptions of course but for the most part, private companies were far too reticent and closely held to engage in external collaborations - let alone seek them out.

But then was then and now is now. Collaborations among private companies in todays world, are not only commonplace, but aggressively sought out. Turns out, companies can actually grow and perform in ways they never imagined via collaborations with other like-minded companies. And indeed there are countless examples today, all over the world.


And that brings me to one Thomas Chatfield and his company, Camber Aviation Management. Thomas and I have known each other for a few years now and in addition to our professional histories, Thomas and I also have a shared affinity for good stories and thought provoking subjects. So it wasn't long before we stumbled onto the notion of turning our individual experiences into shared experiences - and then sharing them yet again with our respective audiences (a.k.a. you!). 

And all that has led us here, to our own best example of collaboration;  a cooperation between two companies who both share a love of aviation interiors. We're both very proud to unveil Airborne Cafe, an ongoing series of stories, extollings and viewpoints that affect or in some way compliment the industry we all share and love.. We hope you like the product of this collaboration and we invite your comments as we go along.

In the meantime, enjoy Thomas's first entry, entitled: The Billionaire's Paradox, below

Words From The Editor
Rick Roseman  -  Publisher / Editor

Notes from the editor

In the glittering world of billionaires, every achievement seems within grasp. Skyscraper homes, fleets of high-end cars, priceless art collections – these tangible signs of success are easy to spot. Yet, there's a twist. The most successful, those with virtually limitless resources, often find themselves chasing after the one thing that always slips away. In a famous discussion with Bill Gates, billionaire investor Warren Buffett remarked on the value of time, saying “It's the only thing you can't buy. I mean, I can buy anything I want basically but I can't buy time.”

So, as their wealth accumulates, it feels as though time speeds up, each passing moment a reminder of its irreplaceable nature. It's a stark realization that no matter how much money you have, you can't add hours to your day. It’s not just about looking at the vast fortunes of billionaires, but includes the ageless chase to capture, cherish, and make the most of time. Because when you have everything, the question remains: can you truly buy more moments?

This is the inaugural installment of Airborne Cafe. We are proud to embark on this ongoing series of thoughts, extollings and stories from one of the premier figures in our industry. In each issue Thomas Chatfield will offer us thought provoking articles like the one above - each of them relevant and insightful from the perspective of private aviation. Simply hit the link at right to finish the article and while you're there, learn more about Camber Aviation Management and the importance of their work

"The top DESIGN studios around the world are absolutely the ones that inform the industry and set the trends." 

Jetzign is where we highlight the very latest from the top designers and studios. Whether it be the iconic independents or the great design departments within the world's top completion centers, this is where you will find their latest works - and always with an emphasis on the near-term future of cabin design

Be it fashion or architecture, interiors or what have you, every great designer on the planet can recall their moment…that singular moment in time, or event, when they first knew. There is a wonderful commonality among all creatives wherein a spark occurs, usually at a very young age, and it marks the beginning of a life and a career that only belongs to a relatively small segment of the population. And for those people it’s not merely a talent but a visceral driving force that will extend to every part of their being, bringing a sort of joy and fulfillment that only other artists and designers will ever completely understand. So, from now on, I have decided that when it comes to designers, all interviews and all articles will begin with that one very personal question. Where and when did you first know? When did the spark occur? When was it you realized you had the eye? And there’s not a designer alive that doesn’t have that answer or for whom the recalling of it won’t bring a smile!


Today, I had the pleasure of sitting down with one of the greats in aviation and automotive design. He's a friend and a colleague, he has a keen sense of humor, is uniquely insightful and most importantly, is a man for whom storied experiences collect like bug spatter on a Cobra windscreen at 130 mph.


I’m talking of course about the man behind the ‘Q’, Mr. Howard Guy, founder and CEO of Design Q in Worcestershire, England. And in accordance with my newly established protocol, my opening question to him was . . .

Heading 6

“So, Howard, where and when did you first know?


His answer came in the form of three separate vignettes, each as charming as the era and place they occurred in.


“OK so the very first moment I can remember occurred at age 4 and it involved a brand spanking new tricycle. It was purchased for me on a beautiful summer's day at the seaside by my grandfather who was probably about 75 at the time. There was something about being taken to a store that was full of stuff, that was full of bikes and accessories of all manner. I'd never really experienced that before. And it was more than just what I could visually feast my eyes on. It was the smell of the new rubber tires, the lubricating oils…you know, everything that you got in a traditional small English village bicycle shop back in 1963. All of it just blew my mind. And on top of that, the tricycle had a trunk, one you could open and put things in. It immediately stirred my imagination. I adored the way it looked and functioned - which by the way, was painted a beautiful metallic blue. I've been a blue boy ever since – hence the Shelby blue which I’ll come to later.


It was the first real product I was responsible for and I really appreciated it in a way I never had with anything else. I studied it from every angle, slid my hands along its sleek frame. I even managed to get it by my bed appealing to my mother, asserting that my complete appreciation of the new gift fully depended on it! I laid looking at it and I was blisfully happy, like nothing before. So that moment was the first of a few when I started to keenly appreciate things – their shape, the form, the colours – the design of a thing. It was remarkable and the moment still lives in me.


The second such moment, was at about the same age and happened as I rode the same tricycle.

It was that day I saw my first Jaguar E type! It passed on the lane out front. It would have been about 1965, and I saw the car only briefly because it raced by like a rocket. I was like ‘wow!’ It’s form was so different than anything I’d ever seen - but even as a child my eye could grasp its relevance and sophistication - what it meant to truly see something, to understand and perceive it - whereas to a lot of people, they just don't have that emotional response. I mean we're all different, right? Some people appreciate landscapes. Others appreciate paintings, still others music and on it goes. We all appreciate things in different ways but for me it has always been a blending of mechanical things and the shapely forms that surround the machinery – things that carry emotion and speed and all that sort of stuff. Even recalling my first experiences on the tricycle, I can remember coming down the hills fast as I could, leaning in trying not to tip over you know!? it's a very dynamic, impressionable thing at a young age. So, in a very real way, these early remembrances formed what I would later become.


Now, the third big influence, we’ll save for a bit later because well . . . it’s a bit out of the ordinary and a frankly something remarkably entertaining. So, whatever you do, don’t stop reading and don’t jump ahead. A treat awaits you at the end!

My next question Howard, comes a bit more to the current and while I think I know the answer, I have to ask. In a prior conversation, you mentioned that you sketched things out, even from an early age. Is that something you still do in your current day practice.


“Without question. if I'm doing a little modification on the Cobra, as I was recently, I couldn't help but sketch it out and to flush out my thoughts. I'm doodling in a way you know. I look at sketching as a language. It’s a way of conveying to myself and others, sans words. It transcends words. Projects are an all engrossing sort of thing but when you sketch something out, you’re literally thinking with a pencil, hence the language - and that's what a lot of people don't get. What I’m thinking is directly linked to my left hand so that hand will almost always say a lot more than what my brain's actually thinking, or what I could ever effectively convey in words. I'm not saying anything. It's going straight to the paper but I'm still communicating.


“We’ve talked before about your seemingly inexhaustible archive of stories – the things you’ve experienced both within Design Q and prior to that. Can you tell us one?


I have that reputation do I? Well, I hardly know where to start. There’s so many? But maybe I can start with Bombardier, with whom we have now had a long working relationship with. So, back in 2013, Bombardier approached us wanting help with their new Global 7000. But as the conversation went along, I learned they were in need of more than just design – and then came the question: Can you build us one also? Meaning a full size mockup in every detail and all systems functioning as it would on the actual aircraft. I like the audacity of something that's too big for the building that you actually are in, right? So, when they said, can you build the whole aircraft I said, well of course! (he chuckles).


But in fairness to the story, it wasn’t our first go at that sort of challenge. A few years earlier, we had won a huge project with Cathay Pacific and it too involved building a full-size mockup in complete functioning detail. They were going to complete 60 or 70 aircraft of all sorts. I mean it was a mega project…it was bonkers! But yeah, we made all of the full scale mockups for all the various categories. On the first day in Hong Kong at lunch, there were 20 people around a round table eating sloppy Chinese food which is impossible if you're on show and a dozen people are asking you questions. But, somewhere midway through the Peking Duck, a lady named Rachel said, we've been thinking this morning that we have a 747-400. Can we send it to Design Q and you can kit out a mockup in the aircraft? They were literally going to cut a 74 out of their operational fleet and fly it across for us to play with! It was insane but she (and everyone in the room) were more than serious. Never mind the fact that we don’t have a runway in back of our studio, let alone one that could take a 747. The nearest runway to us is Birmingham international, about 25 minutes away. The runway was long enough to land a 74 but it will never leave, right? The next nearest was a freight runway up in East Midlands - about 3/4 of an hour away but the problem there was it would have to be parked outside with no backshops etc to support a mod like that. So as I rattled off the obstacles to her, she thought for a minute and said “well could you build a 747? Oh, that's easy I said. We can do that. Gleeful in their excitement, they said, Ok so give us your quotation in the morning and let's get this going.


Hang on now! You’re not going to tell me you turned around a quotation in 24 hrs!?


Less than, he replies. They were behind the curve and I wanted lock it down, considering it was the biggest contract we’d ever been in front of. The mapped out what all they needed – which was basically everything but the upper lobe. And to make the quotation fuse even shorter, they entertained us for most of the evening. By the time I got back to my hotel room it was like 1:00 am. I got my pad and started figuring, well this is going to be this big - that's going to be that big, we're going to need another facility that can fit it in let's put you know a 30 grand a year for that and so on. So by the time I actually went to bed, the sun was coming up and through the eyes of delirium, I had a number. I sent it back to the studio for Ts and Cs, formatting etc, closed the blackout draperies and collapsed in bed, probably still in my clothes!

By the end of that day they signed off on the price and effectively, the deal was done. Kind of makes me wonder looking back, if I could have just raised it 50%! But there you have it and we were really glad to get Cathay Pacific – it was a big fish!


I had also decided I wasn’t gonna do it in fiberglass and cardboard and tram tickets. I'm going to do it in aluminium and I'm going to polish it!


C’mon!??? Seriously.


Yes, it needed to be aluminium - so I got I got a friend of mine who has an auto shop and makes bodies for cars and does all that cool stuff. We worked together for years and he worked with Jaguar and McLaren and a lot of cool projects. So I knew he was capable of most anything so I said ok, I want you to make all the belt frames, stringers etc and our team, we’ll do all the internals. So we're doing the PSUs, the ceilings, the windows, the bins. We did absolutely everything. It was a monumental task, but we pulled it off and at the end of the day, the customer was very happy. This is why when Bombardier asked ‘Can you build us a turnkey 7000 mockup?’ I just said, piece of cake! I honestly had no fear in those days.


Amazing. So on the 74, how long did it take you - end to end?


I reckon at six months we had the full thing kitted out. They were 24 hour days in many cases, but yea, in roughly half a year, we had the full thing done and ready to deliver. Crazy to even think about looking back.


And what about seats? I assume the customer was providing you seat frames?


Yes, but we had our own upholstery shop so all that was done in house where we could closely manage it. We also had a network of suppliers that are supplying Aston Martin, Jaguar all the rest of it so, all you do is you categorize. You basically break down the work scope. My job was to sort of manage, giving that to people who I know are going to deliver. I mean the cool thing with Cathay was it really was a brand-new business class proposal, and they were very pleased at the end of the day. So much so in fact, that they ended up saying, ‘Can you build us two more?’, which we happily did. To this day on the 6th floor in Cathay City, in their headquarters, that original mockup still resides. They use it for staff training and so forth, so you've got a full set of interiors. They also use it for updating their products and trying out new proposals in an accurate mock flight environment.


Can you tell us about your Virgin / Richard Branson project?

F  E  A  T  U  R  E  D     A  N  I  M  A  T  I  O  N
by: Cristina Scarlata - Special Contributor

As the sun sets, guests walk the red carpet arriving at the elegant and minimalistic entrance. A soundscape evoking gentle beach waves immerses them in a relaxing seaside atmosphere. A fine-glass doorway, delicately carved with a customized ocean-inspired theme, opens onto a welcoming lobby. As the guests access the open lounge area, an almost  imperceptible scent of white roses, chamomile, and citrus oils, inspired by the host's favorite childhood scent, adds to the serene atmosphere. The stunning marble floor features a statement Calcutta medallion. Sandalwood columns with metallic accents frame the exclusive collection of abstract art hanging on the walls.

A neutral palette of colors contrasts with vibrant accents and vivid hues of coral blues, a tribute to relaxing tropical beaches. Gentle lighting envelops the curved twin-faced TV and the luxurious sofas embellished with exquisite stitching as they get immersed in a spatial sonic experience featuring Philip Glass' In the Upper Room.

The elegant dining room leads into a breathtaking living area. Tufted carpet, designed with Fibonacci-inspired shell patterns, creates an inviting path toward the seating area, where comfort blends with luxurious and timeless embellishments, creating an atmosphere of relaxed luxury and harmony. Refreshments are served on chilled Imperial glass, adding a feel-good, feel-home, relaxing vibe to the tastebuds. Guests relax on ultra-luxurious ergonomic seats upholstered with the finest leather. Customized soundscapes envelop each seat. A comforting, professional voice prompts them to please fasten their seatbelts. This most personal and private of jets is ready to take off.

Serenity and calm are elusive commodities in the human experience, but the psychological community all agree on one thing . . . that it's most often achieved when all our senses are tantalized simultaneously. 

"Architecture is really about well-being. I think that people want to feel good in a space."

Zaha Hadid

Over the years, I have had the privilege to access some of the most lavish, ultra-luxurious, and sophisticated cabin interiors ever designed for private jets. From the serene beauty of timeless, minimalistic Hygge-inspired themes to the most extraordinary creative recreations of maximalist bars, lounge and conference areas, gyms, and presidential suites, cabin interiors allow interior designers to produce unparalleled spaces; each cabin concept is a stunning marvel of design outfitted with the most exquisite and rare materials that elevate each cabin to the highest dimension of elegance, beauty, comfort, and advanced functionality.

My favorite cabin interiors are those designed as holistic sensory spaces in which interior design studios go beyond focusing on the visual, architectural, and tactile experiences to explore and fully embrace the importance of immersing their clients into a sensory realm, centering their interior design concepts in pleasing all the senses.

"The greatest wealth is health."

Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil)


As a wellness-centric philosophy, sensory design has redefined Business Aviation interiors. Sensory design implies that each cabin interior must engage passengers meaningfully, efficiently, and respectfully. An inclusive, organic, and multisensory approach to interior design must balance all the senses, sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste, to create harmonious, memorable, all-immersive cabin experiences.

The traditional focus on aesthetics and exclusive materials, furnishing, and architecture has transcended to explore how audio, taste, and smell must leave behind their traditional supporting roles and become indispensable players contributing to passenger wellness, entertainment, work environment, and relaxation.

At 40,000 ft. of altitude, the circadian rhythm affects all bodies and minds, especially in long-range flights. A deep understanding of the role of lighting and immersive sound has become crucial for interior designers to minimize jetlag. Carefully selected scents, intelligent lighting, and customized sound design are vital to creating the ideal atmosphere in the cabin, positively impacting the passenger's mood and balancing their energy levels.

Companies specializing in cabin audio systems for private jets continuously innovate, engineering wellness-centric acoustic solutions. Seat-centric audio, intelligent sweet spots, and immersive audio technologies go beyond providing audiophile-quality listening and entertainment experiences. Today the focus is shifting to the emotional and physical benefits of music, spatial audio, customized soundscapes, and vibroacoustic wellness.

The same occurs with lighting companies, offering designers lighting modes that go beyond pleasing the eye and can adapt to each cabin's specifications considering circadian rhythm. Additional elements, such as aromatherapy, culinary design, Zen and mindfulness-friendly spaces, and the continued commitment to select sustainable and eco-friendly materials, contribute to the sensory composition of each cabin with extraordinary levels of customization.

Today, enveloping 8K TV screens can wrap a whole cabin projecting the highest quality of visuals, transforming the cabin into immersive visual landscapes enhanced by spatial soundscapes, lighting shows, and bespoke scents to immerse passengers in a new dimension of tranquility and entertainment, offering a wide selection of customized possibilities and combinations. 

"The quality remains long after the price is forgotten."

Sir Henry Royce

Sensory design is an investment in passenger wellness. As interior designers apply sensory design, the cabin becomes more than just an aesthetically pleasing environment. The most exquisite cabin interiors seamlessly blend design with technical intelligence. Ergonomic seats capable of recognizing body shapes and temperature, acoustic-enveloping headrests, 3D spatial sound, LED lighting, and curated scents and flavors unite and balance to enhance the flying experience and allow passengers to reach a new dimension of relaxation, comfort, and well-being.

Stunning aesthetics, outstanding spaces, and lavish luxury are no longer enough to satisfy the challenges and expectations of Business Aviation customers. Designing blueprints with all the senses in mind has awakened a fascinating world of organic and dynamic cabin interior designs that will continue to raise the bar of creative excellence inspired by the human-centric principle of holistic wellness.  

Cristina Scarlata is a special contributor to JCF Magazine

Cristina is also Senior Director of Strategic Marketing for ALTO Aviation

In the mobility design space, it’s hard to find a designer that will disagree with the assertion of my title. High-end automotive design is arguably the highest art-form of interior cabin design, especially among those that aspire to it in other spaces – notably the industrial and aviation design community entrusted to today’s jet interiors. The design itself, not to mention the fit and finish, of almost any Mercedes Maybach, Bentley or other top in motorcar is, hands down, the pinnacle of the artform. Is it because the automotive studios attract the most talented and disciplined designers on the planet? No, however there could be a good argument made that many young designers do aspire to automotive design, for the sheer catche of it. But the reality is, it’s not about talent or discipline or so-called stylistic intellect. In fact, it’s not about humans at all. At the end of the day, it entirely boils down to simple economics.


The fact is, when a top end motorcar completes its design cycle and is ready to enter production, it will be reproduced over hundreds, and in most cases, many thousands of units. So, the development cost and all those thousands of design iterations, can be amortized over the production run and funded by the very steep prices they command to the buying public.


That’s one part of it. The other component is that the typical design & development cycle of a new high-end car model generally ranges from 3-5 years. For all of us in aviation interiors, we know that kind of runway will never even come close to feasible within the life cycle of a one-off VVIP aircraft interior. It may come close mind you, within the top-end business jet OEM environment – but even still, it’s not the same world. Automotive design and engineering enjoys a very unique environment wherein the luxury they are creating is afforded by the built-in luxury of the business model within which they operate. The business model for cars, especially very high-end ones, is a completely unique space where the design and development of a new model, can be nourished, refined and labored over for years; a very sweet and enviable game to be a part of, to be sure!

And as if it weren’t obvious to start with, the two design spaces (automotive and jet design) are arguably the two fields that literally have badass inscribed at the top of the job application. The cool factor alone is lofty, especially within the parlance of such elite professionals. If you’re young and on fire, let’s face it, a seat at either table has braggin’ rights!

And maybe that’s a good place to start. Let’s take a peek into the world on one

Mr. Flavio Manzoni. If you don’t know the name, he’s the king sh---t, top dog (a.k.a. Vice President of Design) at Ferarri in Maranello, Italy.


The below is partially excerpted from an article by Ted Gushue in Petrolicious


Flavio Manzoni is a busy man. When he isn’t penning the future four wheeled home of a crispy Cavalino, reinventing the chair for Poltrona Frau, or overseeing his massive design team you might find him sketching away on the next timepiece from Swiss manufacturer Hublot. All of this is to say that to get 15 minutes with the man is a feat of mechanical engineering in and of itself – but that’s not by his design.

When I finally sat down with a man who I’ve been reading about for over a decade I was immediately humbled by how deeply passionate he is about not only his work, but about all of the work that came before his that allows his to be possible. “I’ve watched the 250GTO Petrolicious film dozens of times, it’s just a perfect car.” he explained, stroking our collective ego at the office while also reinforcing how important the legends of Italian design are to everything he does. Below is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation, I hope you enjoy learning about his process as much as I did.

And as if it weren’t obvious to start with, the two design spaces (automotive and jet design) are arguably the two fields that literally have badass inscribed at the top of the job application. The cool factor alone is lofty, especially within the parlance of such elite professionals. If you’re young and on fire, let’s face it, a seat at either table has braggin’ rights!


And maybe that’s a good place to start. Let’s take a peek into the world on one

Mr. Flavio Manzoni. If you don’t know the name, he’s the king sh---t, top dog (a.k.a. Vice President of Design) at Ferarri in Maranello, Italy.


The below is partially excerpted from an article by Ted Gushue in Petrolicious


Flavio Manzoni is a busy man. When he isn’t penning the future four wheeled home of a crispy Cavalino, reinventing the chair for Poltrona Frau, or overseeing his massive design team you might find him sketching away on the next timepiece from Swiss manufacturer Hublot. All of this is to say that to get 15 minutes with the man is a feat of mechanical engineering in and of itself – but that’s not by his design.

When I finally sat down with a man who I’ve been reading about for over a decade I was immediately humbled by how deeply passionate he is about not only his work, but about all of the work that came before his that allows his to be possible. “I’ve watched the 250GTO Petrolicious film dozens of times, it’s just a perfect car.” he explained, stroking our collective ego at the office while also reinforcing how important the legends of Italian design are to everything he does. Below is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation, I hope you enjoy learning about his process as much as I did.

Ted Gushue: So Flavio, what was the first car that you ever remember driving?

Flavio Manzoni: My first car? A Fiat Cinquecento. It was the Cinquecento of my father. My father was a very tall man, the Cinquecento was so small that I remember I thought he looked so strange at first when he drove the car home.

TG: What drew you to design, and specifically automotive design at such a young age?

FM: Since I was born I don’t know why, but it was immediately apparent that I had a tremendous passion for drawing, for sketching. My father was an architect, so we always had sketching tools nearby.

It’s not so surprising really that my brother Maurizio, who is a designer at Studio Memo in Florence, and myself both ended up in design. Naturally as we became more focused on sketching more and more of our sketches became of cars. We were completely crazy for cars, sketching every day, new cars. Complete design briefs almost. Exteriors, interiors, engines, name, brand, everything. It was a kind of sickness.

TG: You didn’t go straight for automotive design though—you studied architecture in school, right?

FM: I started in Florence, because architecture didn’t exist at the time in Sardinia. So I decided to go to Florence, which of course is a beautiful city, so it was a fantastic experience for me. Not only because of the city but because of the important masters of the university like Achille Castiglioni, who of course is responsible for so many of the most important lighting fixtures and objects of the 20th century. You also had many, many important architects were also there at the time. It was an incredibly rich environment for a young designer.

TG: While you started off with a clear passion for cars, how did that manifest itself in your time studying architecture? To that end, like Castiglioni, you also began to build a passion for horological design. As someone who is a fan of what you’ve created, it’s unquestionable that your products, whether they be a watch for Hublot, a Fiat 500, or a LaFerrari, they all carry the mark of someone who has a deep personal connection to that product, and a genuine respect for that world.

FM: Well, I was very eclectic when I was young. So, this is a kind of characteristic that I probably have. I really love to find connections between different fields. So, when I design a car, I don’t sit around and stare at other cars. I need to be inspired by something tangentially related. It’s a kind of “serendipity philosophy”. I don’t know if that’s the right term to define it, but I love to find inspiration and build intuition in one field from another. When I begin work on a watch for Hublot it was not a standard design brief “make a watch that says Ferrari on it”. It was an organic collaboration that forced us to draw inspiration from outside of watchmaking. To be able to bring new seeds and new energy and new inspiration to an object that is formerly completely different, but in terms of design approach can be very close to Ferrari.

We use much of the same philosophy at Ferrari now. At our core, form follows function. Everything we do begins with an innovation. Technological materials, high performing materials. New production processes. You will see that in all our car designs. They flow into each other, carrying the same philosophy. And the beauty of it is that you discover how much personality you can give to an object, be it a watch or a car, starting from a point of view which is completely different from the designers normally working in this field.

Ferarri and indeed Mr. Manzoni practice what he calls Lightweight design. He says it is an edict within the design process of all their cars.

“When we design a new Ferrari,” he says, “we employ something called ‘addition by subtraction’. As we shape the car and dig away, it must become visually lighter, not just physically.”

This, more than any of Manzoni’s comments, I find the most interesting. As a jet designer myself (or at least for a big swath of my life), I find this true. That is to say, I understand it, on an intrinsic level – and I think most other world class aviation designers do as well. When developing a jet interior, it is almost always the case where we want to include all the details swirling in our head – but as it comes along through the various iterations, you inevitably strip out the superfluous details in uncovering the final design. It is a process of refinement that holds in its balance, everything that is needed and not one thing that is not.

And when you then consider all that has to be crammed into the very small space of a motorcar, let alone a two-seat Ferarri, this practice…and this kind of eye, must be brought to bear in achieving a truly successful design – be it a car or the cabin of an $80 ML aircraft

The interview continues…

TG: A good friend of mine is an industrial designer. He works quite frequently with other brands outside of his own, and adheres to a golden rule for collaborations: 1+1 must equal 3. All too frequently brands do “collaborations” by just putting a logo on something and calling it new and charging more for it. That said, outside of the watch and car world, who else do you look at for inspiration?

FM: As you can see, I’m very passionate about the masterpieces of Italian design through the ’60s and ’70s. I think if you look at the Valentine typewriter of Olivetti, the TV set, the chair. This chair has been designed in 1962 by Pio Manzù. Pio Manzù was the designer of the Fiat 127. Nice example of a transfer from one field to another. Our team recently designed a beautiful chair for the Italian furniture manufacturer Poltrona Frau. I like to think that this is a vital part of keeping your mind fresh and engaged.

But regardless, the beauty of these objects from the Italian Masters is due to the fact that, from the artistic point of view, they are masterpieces sure, but they are absolutely functional too. Their shape is always linked to the technological innovations of the day and they don’t follow any stylistic trend. The designs are just based on the functional codes of the different products.

Once again, I like his comment here. It has an obvious and critical relevance to design in general but certainly to aircraft interiors. What he is saying of course, is what famed architect, Louis H. Sullivan first said back in 1897 – that “Form must follow function”. As designers, it is pointless and in fact useless (beyond the bluster of wild concepts) to create an amazing aesthetic, if the functional aspects of the interior or undernourished or worse, ignored altogether.

For any mobility interior spaces to succeed, they must truly blend and seamlessly integrate both form and function. If not, there only value is a pleasing image, nothing more.

FM: So I love Achille Castiglioni, Marco Zanuso, Bruno Munari, Enzo Mari, so all the most important Italian innovators of that period. They were just doing what no one had ever done before. Joe Colombo too. if you look at the objects of Joe Colombo they are still very impressive, very modern, and still inspiration for every object of today, like the Arflex sofas, the Arflex armchairs. They are still so beautiful.

TG: To reach the point in your career where you’re able to shape the visual future of a company like Ferrari is an incredible accomplishment. Was there ever a turning point where you really felt like doors were starting to open to you?

FM: I never think about that. Every project I approach is individual and requires total focus. Whether it’s LaFerrari, a Hublot watch, a Fiat 500, a chair, it doesn’t matter. Every single thing I set out to do I must focus like this, fully, otherwise it will never be significant.

Of course I have to say, Ferrari is another thing. [Laughs] It’s not a car. Ferrari is a dream, it’s something else. It’s the summation of many many aspects of what makes us all passionate about motoring. The overcoming of every expectation around each car that we produce is an incredible feat, but we do it with very clear objectives.

Beauty is one of these objectives. Working at Ferrari, I’ve learned how important it is to make real design, not just style. Real design is when the form and function are one entity. Not the form conceived as a coverage over mechanics, but something where everything is organically connected. The final shape you see of a Ferrari is the shape that is absolutely necessary for that specific car. And the same goes for the interior.

Here again, what Mr. Manzoni says above is particularly relevant to aviation design as well. When a designer is contracted to create an interior for their customer – or similarly the major OEMs embark on the development of a new aircraft, it is most certainly, among other things, about selling a dream. In this sense, the end result, if it’s truly successful, goes beyond even form and function. If it’s truly a great design, it will elicit emotion and bring the more dreamlike associations of our subconscious into reality.

Aviation seating, and in particular chairs, are the proverbial fly in the ointment - the three-day old potato salad in an otherwise perfect picnic. Few really want to talk about it much, especially the OEMs that have to continue selling their otherwise amazing, highly advanced aircraft, or certainly the seating majors that have managed to keep us living in the past (sorry but it's true). But we all know it. The seats in Gulfstream's new G-700, at $80 ML a copy, or Bombardier's Global 8000, similarly priced - are beautiful to look at because talented designers have nurtured them; poured themselves into making something beautiful out of grossly aged seat platforms that, forgive me, in their naked state, resemble Frankentein's favorite lounger. Do these seating platforms have to meet the extremely rigorous regulatory requirements of 16G certification? Of course, but that was back in 1988!! That's when Prince kicked off his Love Sexy '88 Tour in Rotterdam for Chissake! And he's been dead for 7 years now!

Now if I'm stepping on some toes here - and I'm sure I am, then by all means, call me out if I'm wrong. But I think the bulk of which I speak Keemosabi, is pretty accurate. Most of the seating in modern, crazy expensive business (and VVIP) jets are built upon platforms that were certified in the late eighties / early nineties. Now make no mistake, these companies did what they had to do. The forward crash regs went from 9G to 16G in one fell swoop. That's pretty much DOUBLE, if your keeping score. No small task. These companies had to adapt and they had to do it quickly. But quick doesn't always allow for nuance and things like human factors, vertebrae conformance, and oh yea...comfort! And trust...they didn't. But, ya know what, that was then and now is now. It is way past the point for change. The talented designers and completion centers out there have done all they can, pulled every trick out of their hats to make a sow out of pig's ear. We need some help from you seat manufacturers. It's time to stop bringing the same old potato salad to the party! With all respect, and with a full understanding of NRE, it's time to Invest in platforms that bring aircraft seating current with the marvelous, incredibly advanced airframes that surround them.

So, with that little rant out of the way, let's get on to the title of my article, shall we? Let's have a look at the more hopeful aspects. For at least two decades now, the world's top designers have been sketching themselves to sleep at night in pursuit of new, more advanced seating, especially chairs - chairs that resemble the ones we have in our homes and more importantly respect the human form - delivering true long-haul comfort and aesthetics that for too long have simply been stricken from the menu. Today we're going to look at concepts from some of the world's top designers - what they envision for the future and more importantly seats that will finally address the long-standing wants of their customers. Are the concepts you will see entirely practical in all cases? Maybe not, but the whole purpose of creativity is to first  imagine what is possible. Imagination is at the forefront of all great change. So with that' let's dive in!

Renowned for his work across the domains of aviation, yachting, architecture, and design, Jacques Pierrejean is synonymous with creating works of astounding elegance. He founded the company PIERREJEAN in Paris in 1975 and since then, has completed a wide array of projects for renowned companies across the world.

Pierrejean’s philosophy on design and conceptual projects is largely based on nature and in he has long been fascinated by the perfection of the human body, which is probably why the above concept so obviously conforms to and respects the human form. The concept, simply titled OI, is both a study in comfort and aesthetics. Notice how Mr. Pierrejean hasn't added one superfluous detail, only those required to provide comfort, functionality and appeal.

Will this evocative lounger be turning up in coming interiors? Too soon to tell but indeed it hints at a far more advanced and visually appealing seat pod in which to relax while airborne.

Getting "one-off" extremely custom interior components fabricated - can be challenging and often come late in the program. Many such requirements simply lie beyond the capabilities of some firms, while others are reticent in taking them on because of the unknowns. Yet one firm has built a reputation on precisely such projects over four decades.

Fain Models was originally founded in 1984 for the purpose of fabricating prototype housings and consumer products for engineers and industrial designers. But over time their market segments have greatly expanded and in directions the firm's owner, Jerry Fain, couldn't have imagined. Today aerospace is the largest of those segments - and interior related projects are a specialty for the firm. In that time, their investments in machinery, computers, state-of-the-art CAD/CAM and an extremely talented workforce have allowed them to meet virtually any requirement thrown at them.

In the early years for the company Mr. Fain realized his own personal desire to be challenged by difficult and unusual projects - and therefore has tailored his firm to meet those requirements. To be sure, Fain has helped many aerospace companies develop very complex high-tech functional components for both civilian and military aircraft. But just as many projects have come from designers and completion centers needing very specialized one-off aesthetic components for VVIP interiors. 

In fact today, Fain Models is so renown for these challenging decorative components that somewhere along the way, they picked up the handle 'The 5-Axis Wizards'. During a project meeting at the former Dallas based Associated Air Center, I overheard their design director remark "It doesn't seem to matter what we pitch at them, they manage to build it for us - and with zero defects." Almost anyone else in the industry having utilized their services will agree. In the world of highly custom aircraft interiors, firms like Fain are not only needed, but essential. The business of getting such projects built and installed per their demanding specs is often extremely challenging - especially given the contractual schedules of such completions. And at the end of the day, it's these very complex, highly custom aesthetic components that threaten to stall projects and throw them weeks or months behind their delivery dates. 

But this is the sweet spot for Fain Models. "It doesn't mean that such projects don't give us fits sometimes." says Mr. Fain "It just means that along time ago, I decided we'd rather be challenged on each new project rather than be bored building widgets over and over."

"I know one of the big sectors for Fain Models over the years, has been VVIP and business Jet aircraft. Can you tell us how and when that came about?"

"Yes, we have extensive experience and capabilities in manufacturing head of state aircraft interior components. We work closely with interior designers and completion centers in developing often difficult aesthetic components that will go in the interior spaces - be it ceiling features, sidewalls, art pieces, lamps and what have you. So yes, we have helped modification centers complete many special, one-of-a-kind projects. Our many customers include L3, Comlux, Lockheed, Boeing, Robinson Aircraft, Triumph Aero,  Sikorsky, Raytheon, Bombardier Aerospace, Gulfstream, Ozark Aircraft Systems and Associated Air - to name a few.

I knew Fain Models did virtually all their own engineering so I asked Mr. Fain about their in-house capabilities.


“Like every division in the company, we take pride in our ability to create and manufacture some of the world’s most complex components. That requires a robust engineering department and we’ve always placed a strong emphasis on that” says Mr. Fain. “Plus, one of our edicts is that we offer our customers the confidence of knowing that we will complete their projects on time and within budget, even when the data is either incomplete or non-existent. Many of our customers come with less than complete data, and we don’t want that to be a stumbling block for them in attaining their goals.”

"Our CAD/CAM department can design just about anything you can dream up." says Fain. "We use state of the art computer hardware and software. Our abilities span the engineering market with products like SDRC IDEAS, SolidWorks CAMAX, and MasterCam. We can design and manufacture from 2D layouts, 3D surfaces, and 3D solid models. Our two Laser systems can verify our customers products to within thousandths of an inch and completely reverse engineer anything within a 100-meter cube. The process of data exchange, both import and export, is seamless. We the ability to handle the standard data formats like IGES, DXF, and DWG but can also support CATIA, VDA, STEP, all graphics formats, and several others. We can also import blueprint and mylars for data creation.


"I know one of the big sectors for Fain Models over the years, has been VVIP and business Jet aircraft. Can you tell us how and when that came about?"

"Yes, we have extensive experience and capabilities in manufacturing head of state aircraft interior components. We work closely with interior designers and completion centers in developing often difficult aesthetic components that will go in the interior spaces - be it ceiling features, sidewalls, art pieces, lamps and what have you. So yes, we have helped modification centers complete many special, one-of-a-kind projects. Our many customers include L3, Comlux, Lockheed, Boeing, Robinson Aircraft, Triumph Aero,  Sikorsky, Raytheon, Bombardier Aerospace, Gulfstream, Ozark Aircraft Systems and Associated Air - to name a few

"So Jerry, in prior conversations I remember you telling me that you periodically take your entire staff down to the local theater to see the latest Star Wars movie or whatever. Is that something you've been doing for a long time?"

"Yes, I don't remember exactly when we first started that - but it's something I enjoy and I think our staff does too. I mean we all work really hard around here - especially them - and so it's good for us to all get out together once in a while for some fun. And of course Star Wars movies are always fun so I guess it's just one of those things that's stuck and can look forward to. I also know in a practical sense, that personnel problems can often be avoided by maintaining a tight team that can enjoy each other. I mean things are hard enough when projects are running smoothly. . . no need to invite more, right!?, he laughs." 

"Sounds like wisdom to me! So let's stay with that for a second. . . what would you say has been your biggest lesson over the last four decades""

Again he smiles. . . 

"Enjoy the ride, and try to learn something valuable from each new project."

To learn more about Fain Models LLC, visit:

When you open the door to the Lou Hansell Bespoke studio, the possibilities begin. Our artisans and designers have selected a palette of exquisite materials, with 51 shades of ltalian leathers, five metal and inner trim pairings, and personalization options. Driven by their boundless creativity, they combine their talents and craftsmanship to create pieces you’ll cherish forever.