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Innovative economy seating design triumphs at 2021 Crystal Cabin Awards

(CNN) – A next-generation contactless aircraft bathroom concept and economy seat were named winning designs in an annual competition highlighting aircraft cabin innovations that could reshape the future of flight.

French cabin designer Safran’s Beacon hands-free bathroom concept won the Clean and Safe Air Travel category at this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards, while the Safran Interspace seat concept won the Judges’ Choice award.

The winners were announced in a virtual ceremony as part of the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2021, an industry event showcasing innovation in cabin design.

The awards, judged by 28 industry experts, generally recognize eight categories, but are limited to two key awards for 2021 in the wake of the pandemic.

Lukas Kaestner, president of the Crystal Cabin Awards Association, told CNN Travel that the choice of winners was a “close race” and that the range of nominees “shows that innovation in the passenger experience is still very active. , even after more than a year of pandemic. “

New generation economic seat

The design of the Interspace aircraft seat includes two padded wings that manually fold in and out of the seat, to allow the traveler more privacy and provide a place to rest their head while ‘he tries to sleep in flight.

Interspace is the brainchild of Universal Movement, a spin-off from London-based design company New Territory. It’s in partnership with the veteran of aircraft interiors Safran to make this seat design a reality.

The wings created extra privacy, and leaning against a wing, like you would if you were trying to take a nap, was surprisingly comfortable.

The idea is that Interspace’s wings could be adapted to existing airplane seats, or pre-built, as in the prototype.

Designer Luke Miles, who previously worked for three years as head of design at Virgin Atlantic, told CNN Travel at the 2019 launch that Interspace’s goal was to allow economy travelers “a better night’s rest, better flight “.

The designer said he noticed that the design of airplane cabins tended to focus on business-class or first-class experiences and wanted to find a way to make the cheap seats more comfortable.

Future of the economy

Lukas Kaestner of the Crystal Cabin Awards said the awards body noticed a recent trend to create “increased privacy” in the economy cabin.

Toyota Boshoku’s CLOUD CAPSULE concept, for example – on this year’s shortlist of judges – imagines a two-level aircraft cabin that uses the area above the economy seat as additional space for passengers.

According to a statement from the Japanese company, the design is expected to “make economy class travel safer, more enjoyable and more comfortable, while creating more revenue opportunities for airlines.”

The idea is that passengers could purchase a regular economy seat ticket and then, as an add-on, purchase access to CLOUD CAPSULE, which Toyota Boshoku calls “a multi-purpose room that matches the experience of a seat in business class”. Travelers could retreat there once the aircraft reaches cruising altitude.

The capsule could also have its own heating and cooling settings.

Perhaps one of the most eye-catching designs on Judges’ Choice’s long list was the remarkable Chaise Longue economy seat project – a two-tier cabin with each row alternating between floor seats and seats raised a few feet away. above ground.

“The lower row has the advantage of allowing passengers to live the lounge experience of a sofa by stretching the legs, while the upper row offers an SUV experience, for example allowing to cross the legs thanks to the space for increased legs and overall living space, ”Designer Alejandro Núñez Vicente told CNN Travel earlier this year.

Hygienic solutions

Meanwhile, the Clean and Safe Air Travel category recognized concepts that sought to create a safer air environment.

In addition to Safran’s winning bathroom design, notable nominees included Rosen Aviation’s holographic controller, a control panel for flight attendants that opts for motion sensors rather than buttons.

Meanwhile, Collins Aerospace has submitted an aircraft cabin disinfectant lighting solution called Lilac-UV, which disinfects the interior of the aircraft whenever a light is emitted.

In 2022, the Crystal Cabin Awards plan to revert to their original eight categories, with Kaestner telling CNN Travel he expects the focus to be on in-flight safety and health.

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