From the epicenter of Europe's design scene, comes one of the preeminent studios, a firm that has made its footprint in yachting, architecture and now the top ends of VVIP aviation.
By: Richard W. Roseman
There are names in the industrial design world that always seem to float to the surface in conversation. I attended the annual Monaco Yacht Show in 2019, one of the world's most well attended yachting shows by actual owners. In that rather unique setting, one is privy to conversations involving owners, their representatives and captains. By the end of the show, I had heard the name Pierrejean at least FIVE times, independently.
The world of top designers is a bit like the world of actors. If you're not hearing their name, it's either because they haven't yet arrived or their peak has passed. But there's only one reason for hearing a designers name over and again at events like the Monaco show. And that's because they're on top of their game. In addition to all the top yacht builders and brokers, last year's show also saw aviation OEM giant's like Boeing and Airbus. While a strong aviation presence may seem paradoxical at yacht shows, it's really quite a natural extension of their marketing platforms because of course, the customer base is one and the same. And for me at least, it's here in these circles where the name Pierrejean continued to find my ear.
My hope would have been to take the short hop up to Paris and visit personally with the studio's founder and director, Mr. Jacques Pierrejean, but unfortunately my travel plans would't accommodate such luxury this trip. Thanks however to the assistance of Mr. Quinn Pendleton , Equilibre Monaco, who represents the firm, I was (in effect) able to sit down with Mr. Pierrejean and conduct a remarkably open and informative Q & A, touching on many topics and exploring some of the reason's for the studio's globally recognized pedigree.
Below is my interview with Mr. Jacques Pierrejean.
FB: Jacques, your studio is quite well known globally at this point for your work in VIP aircraft. Can you please tell us how that came to be; how you first crossed-over into aviation from perhaps other areas of practice such as yachting and architecture?
PJ: I began my career as an architect focusing on different concepts for the home. One day, while on a flight, I wondered who it was that designed the interior of the cabin. This concept appealed to me greatly. Shortly after, I began a collaboration with Dassault Aviation, one that lasted over 12 yeas. This was the beginning of my work in this niche market. Sometime after, I moved into yachting because many of the same aviation customers also had also yachts.
FB: I think you would agree that by now, the name Pierrejean Vision carries a certain pedigree. How do you manage maintain those threads of distinction and unique PV style while, quite necessarily, also capturing the wide and varied design briefs of your clients?
PJ: Compared to different designers, I would say we are more into discovering new ways to innovate in our field. Traditional cabin designs focus on a conservative style (dark wood, blue leather, traditional layouts). In our case, we try to think of new ways to do things. Style for us is mainly focused on the general arrangement (layout). One focus of mine is avoiding narrow corridors in order to give the impression of enhanced space on board, and to give soft shapes with bulkheads/partitions. Our experience in designing both private and commercial aircraft allows for a certain amount of freedom when approaching new projects. When we start to think about new cabins for major airlines (Emirates, Qatar, Singapore), the different sub-contractors are more open to think for the future, knowing what we have done in the past. Thanks to this, we have had the chance to think of new creativity, new concepts, new ambiances with lighting, and using concepts for commercial airlines that were normally used for private aircraft. I believe this has established our brand/image on the market for creativity.
FB: Paris has long been held as one of the premier global centers for design and style. Do you think your location has helped attract aviation customers and do you find it easier perhaps than other locations, to put your hands on new materials, furnishings and fixtures for those projects?
PJ: Most definitely. For us, Paris has been very important for different customers, particularly those coming from the Middle East and Asia. I think these customers give great attention to a particular kind of philosophy; Paris, like Milano, is a city where the fashion is a driving force. In this city, you have many design offices moving in the same way through different applications, culture, exchanges. Here we have different possibilities to discover new materials, furnishings, etc. and being able to physically visit the supplier to feel the textures/quality of the wood/wool/fabrics/stitching details. We have everything we need all around our office.
FB: Freshbook is about helping designers like yourself discover the “New and Fresh” out there in the world of aviation cabin suppliers. Can you give our readers some insight into how you go about discovering and employing always fresh new products that meet the rigorous regulatory demands of aviation certification bodies?
PJ: As you’ve said, regulations are very important in this kind of design. For example, sometimes we receive requests from clients desiring specific elements to be integrated into the cabin design (such as a bathtub, or large sculpture piece). However, the aircraft is a moving object, and always at risk for turbulence. Fixing things to cabinetry is essential (in the example of sculptures), and this brings other problems such as additional weight, safety risk, etc. So, instead we focus on using different textures, different patterns for the lining, playing with soft or shining surfaces. On top of that, we diffuse certain kinds of lighting to achieve different impressions of within the space of the aircraft. One example is using types of window blinds (louvers) to catch light in different ways, using the outside light to bring reflection inside. One other very new concept is the utilization of carpets with LED inside, allowing for completely different ambiances for day and nighttime.
FB: The big question that always tantalizes our readers is, what are you working on now? Can you give us a peek both in words and images, at what projects you currently have, or perhaps have recently completed?
PJ: We are currently working on a special cabin interior design to reduce the weight of the cabin, which is one of the most important elements. Customers wish to avoid having to stop for refueling, so minimizing weight is critical. To accommodate this, we have developed extra-light furniture that is directly connected with the lining of the cabin. This minimizes the different points of fixation of the cabinetry/bulkhead to stay with a pure and efficient weight impact. In term of current work, our project for the Bombardier C Series is in the works.
FB: Aircraft and Yachts have long resided very closely to one another, both in terms of the customer base and the high levels of fit and finish that are obviously employed on both. Can you please tell us what you think are the biggest similarities in designing for both – and where the greatest differences lie. Also, might you tell us which project type, yacht or aircraft, tends to excite your studio the most?
PJ: When we are creating an aircraft, we consider the finished project as a tool: a vehicle to get from point A to B in the most functional and efficient way possible. By contrast, yachts are more like a toy, a lifestyle that includes both transport but also well-being and pleasure. Of course, the regulations for each type of project are completely different. For airplanes, one must always consider weight, whereas for yachts the weight is not as critical when choosing the interior design elements. Another key difference is the use of space. Aircraft must be planned in order to provide the maximum of comfort in a minimum of space. A yacht has more space and can be organized differently (many decks, staircases, lifts, etc.) allowing for more freedom in the design. The process of designing a yacht is very open for me and quite constrained with aircraft.
The similarity is the fact that in both types of projects you are working on a space which is moving (whether water or air). When constructing a house, it is the same configuration and always static. In both aircraft and yachts, you must always consider stability, and the situation for passengers if the water is choppy or air is turbulent. This includes the addition of handrails, avoiding breakable pieces, sharp edges, etc. Concept of design for general arrangement, and layout, is something totally different from that of a house.
My preference definitely lies with yachts because I can think without restrictions. The possibilities for playing with light, reflections, outside areas, and the general arrangement is unlimited.
FB: We’ve found that many globally recognized design studios have their own showrooms, where customers can come and select materials, take design review meeting etc. but perhaps just as many do not. Please tell us if you have a customer design studio and if so, how you think that helps your overall business. Also, do you often have clients that prefer to have you only come to them?
PJ: I know that some of my competitors have this, but we do not believe there is necessity to have a showroom. Instead, we wish to provide our customers the possibility to create exactly what they need/want for the project without relying on our own limited materials. Most of the time, we will come to the customer to show the project with materials we have selected from various sources. Sometimes, however, customers will ask us to come with them to visit other showrooms to select material. We can do both, and this flexibility allows us to be more open and creative for all of our projects.
FB: It has often been said “The Devil is in the Details”. Do you feel that often this is true in completing your designs or do you enjoy focusing on details?
PJ: Absolutely true. We pay attention to the details for many reasons. The primary one being that when you touch or see such details, it is a symbol of quality. The stitching or assembly between panels is a reference to the construction and that has a big impact of the feeling of security on the aircraft. If the interior is constructed with poor or sloppy finishing, it means the aircraft may not feel secure. Whereas if you style with clean, refined, well-made materials, this gives an overall feeling of security about the aircraft as a whole.
FB: Within the news section of your website, it says you recently picked up two IDA Design Awards. Can you please tell us about these awards and for what projects they were bestowed? Also might you tell us if awards such as these have a measurable impact on your business?
PJ: The awards were dedicated for the external design of our giga yacht YAS and the First-Class Cabin of Singapore Airlines. The latter was a concept that we were very happy to have introduced into the commercial airline industry: enhancing the first-class passenger experience by providing both a seat and a bed (not the seat transforming into a bed). Of course, having awards provides additional value and prestige for our business.
FB: Designers like yourself are always creating spectacular homes, aircrafts and yachts for their customers. With that in mind, we often like to ask is: If you personally had the financial resources of your clients, what aircraft would you fly and what car would you drive to the FBO? And in follow on, what style of vacation home would you have and where?
PJ: Concerning the aircraft, the Bombardier C-series would be my favorite, taking into consideration the range and available space inside. It has an exceptionally quiet ambiance inside, because the engineering was focused on noise cancellation. For the car, definitely a Bentely to drive to FBO, however only if I could style and design the interior! (winks) My vacation home is of course Carré de Vie, a project we are working on that has already been launched in several locations. It is a floating house completely independent with its own energy coming from solar panels, water treatment, etc. It can be placed anywhere, so I would imagine somewhere near the mountains in Ecuador.
FB: What emerging trends do you see in design overall and do you ever feel that those trends show up late within aviation or yachting applications? In other words, do you think transportation interiors follow global trends, in a general sense?
PJ: I think the most important trends this past year have stemmed from concepts in commercial aviation. With companies like Emirates, Singapore, Qatar, they have put the comfort of the travelling experience high on the priority list for conceptual design. This focus has trickled down into other transport design including cars, railway, cruises, etc. I believe that the symbiosis of comfort and product design is essential for any design project. Additionally, natural materials are quite trendy right now, as people are looking to be in a quiet, soft ambiance with reference of nature. I have always believed very much in this philosophy.
FB: Lastly Mr. Pierejean, can you please tell us at what point in your life you first realized you had a gift for creating aesthetics and how that gift eventually became your livelihood?
PJ: Around the age of 18, I had the urge to imagine how I could better design the seats I would sit in, the house I lived in, essentially everywhere that people occupied spaces. How could they be better designed to enhance the experience of being within them? I started my own firm quite early at the age of 23, looking for different ways and possibilities to express my creativity on these concepts. It was of course not easy, because being so young brings the challenge of convincing customers you are capable of doing it. Over the years my experience has grown, but I will never forget the initial seeds of inspiration that led me to enter the design business.
We pay attention to the details for many reasons;
the primary one being that when you touch or see such details, it is a symbol of quality. The stitching or assembly between panels is a reference to the construction and that has a big impact of the feeling of security for our clients, on the aircraft.
For more information on PJV, contact Quinn Pendleton at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or for editorial questions, contact Rick Roseman at: 214.415.3492 (email@example.com).
Freshbook Page: https://www.freshbook.biz/pierrejean