Virgin Atlantic Airways upper class interior redesigned
Viewport Studio, a London and Singapore-based design agency, has designed the latest edition of Virgin Atlantic Airways upper class bar and cabin interior for the first Boeing 787–9 in Europe.
Under their former name VW+BS, Viewport Studio designed an award-winning bar and cabin for the Airbus A330 for Virgin Atlantic in 2012. They were commissioned again in 2014 to design a brand new bar concept for Boeing’s Dreamliner 787.
The cabin interior is wider and taller than its predecessor and has been carefully designed with cathedral–like archways at the entrance to emphasis the additional height. The cantilevered bar and sharp cutaway on the underside creates a distinctly architectural quality, while the angled ceiling panels create a subtle refraction of light into the space.
The vision behind the Upper Class bar to create a genuine social hub that allows Virgin customers the freedom and space to make connections with their fellow travellers. To achieve this, Viewport Studio have angled the bar so that it faces the passenger upon boarding and encourages them to gather around, thus creating an entirely new dynamic for crew interaction as they are no longer positioned away from the passenger behind a counter. Around the bar are four stools, which are positioned to allow face-to-face dining, to encourage further interaction and social engagement within the space.
The interior colour palette is sophisticated and refined, with the mood defined by the lighting rather than the materials. “We wanted to create a neutral canvas by using fewer materials and more subdued colours with the emphasis on white, so that the lighting design possible in this new aircraft could be used to full effect,” explains communications director Ian Macready. “We created a three dimensional pattern based on the cracking ice patterns found in traditional Chinese screens so that the lighting was reflected in a very animated way.”
Each surface element has a very tactile quality, from the innovative twin shot moulded bar seats and surfaces for the ledges and perches in the galley wall, and high gloss textured paint surface for the bar front, and a white Corian bar top. The bar stools are designed as a distinct item of furniture with a metallic inset to reflect the lighting from the underside of the bar, and on either side of the bar are two distinct monuments – one for the bottles of drink for the bar and one for magazines. Each has brightly lit textured walls in white with the same cracking ice pattern, to create a dynamic feature to the functional storage unit.
In Premium Economy VAA and Viewport Studio have improved the customer experience with the introduction of a completely new social space; the Wander Wall. Passengers can leave their seat to pick up a drink, a snack, a newspaper or even a cup of camomile tea to help them sleep. The design motifs are continued through from the Upper Class bar, with a combination of smooth and textured surfaces and angled planes with mood lighting. The wall is akin to a cabinet of curiosities in its design with a series of inset recesses and boxes suspended off the wall capped at each end by reflective surfaces.
The bar and monuments were manufactured by New Zealand-based Altitude Aerospace Interiors, who worked closely with Viewport Studio as well as the VAA in-house team, to create an effective delivery of the design and service ambition.
The overall effect for the 787 is a highly detailed sleek and contemporary product with small components of surprise and depth. The bar and cabin design is presented seamlessly alongside a whole series of other design elements such as the distinct and striking new cabin crew uniform by Vivienne Westwood, the carefully designed meal service and the Upper Class Suite.
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