“Time is our most precious commodity, and there are conveniences that wealth brings to essentially get you more time. —retired Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, explaining why he commutes via private jet from his Seattle home to watch games of the Los Angeles Clippers, the basketball team he bought last year for $2 billion. ”
In recent years, many luxury fashion and design houses have ventured into the realm of the private jet cabin. Automobile and yacht designers are climbing aboard, too.
Italian fashion and design company Versace created a business jet cabin on behalf of aircraft charter and management giant TAG Group. The idea, according to a TAG spokesman, came from Aziz Ojjeh, co-owner of the Luxembourg-based group, who was “just waiting for a receptive market.” The design house produced a series of video images, 3-D renderings and a cabin mockup in striking black and white with the distinctive Versace Greek Key fret embossing.
London-based Andrew Winch Designs, which is perhaps best known for its work with yachts, has created interiors for about a dozen large private jets. “Every project has its unique challenges,” said Jim Dizon, head of aviation design. “While the technology provides new opportunities, in the end it comes down to lifestyle and how the client plans to use the airplane.”
Priestmangoode of London, another yacht designer, created the cabin for one of Embraer’s Lineage 1000s. It features five zones, a bar and a stateroom with double bed and shower. “The way we see it, design has to serve the passenger and enable a more pleasant, intuitive and comfortable journey,” said co-director Paul Priestman.
Edése Doret of New York was one of the first interior design firms to offer a proposal for the cabin of the only Airbus A380 sold for private use. The plan calls for a Jacuzzi, an oasis lounge design replication of a desert tent and a spiral staircase. More recently, Doret designed a living wall of ferns that is being put into a privately owned Boeing 787-9.
Aero Toy Store teamed with automobile designer Pininfarina of Ferrari fame to produce the Pininfarina Edition Learjet 60. Customers want the “sexiness” associated with having an interior designed by icons such as Pininfarina or Versace, noted Aero Toy Store COO Ben Shirazi.
Another firm with roots in the auto industry, Porsche Design Studio, has teamed with aircraft interiors specialist Jet Aviation of Basel. Their goal: to create cabins that are “timeless, purist and clear, [and distinguished] from traditional airplane interiors.”
DesignworksUSA, part of the BMW Group, was best known for its automotive designs but in recent years has moved into private jet interiors in a major way. One of its earlier efforts was an executive Boeing 787 cabin proposal for a fictitious Russian client. It included a theater lounge with a waterfall and a transparent floor through which visitors could view the owner’s collection of luxury vehicles in the baggage bay.
The California-based designer is also working with Brazilian jet manufacturer Embraer to create interiors for that company’s new midsize Legacy 500 and the light midsize Legacy 450. DesignworksUSA also collaborated with Dassault Falcon in design of the 2000S. For that project, the two companies received the prestigious “Good Design” award from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
Helicopters, too, are benefiting from brand-name designs.
Versace applied its expertise to an AgustaWestland AW109 Power executive helicopter for Romania-based loan company Tiriac Air. A second AW109, with a more subdued gray interior, went to Italy’s Elimarca. Yet another AW109 with a Versace interior was delivered to a private owner in Russia.
In London, Capital Air Services took delivery of the first L’Hélicoptère par Hermès, an EC135 twin. The design was a joint effort of manufacturer Eurocopter and the French design house Hermès.
The marriage of Eurocopter and Mercedes-Benz has been particularly successful, with delivery of the third EC145 to Speedway Aviation in the U.S. Created by the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Division in Como, Italy, the medium twin-engine helicopter has a distinctive, almost shark-like nose redesign, leather and wood appointments, in-flight entertainment and room for eight passengers.
In the U.S., Texas Aviation Services delivered a “Ferrari-styled” Eurocopter EC130 to automotive entrepreneur Mike Herzog.
The owner of a large car dealership in Portland, Oregon, Herzog collects Ferraris and wanted his helicopter to match the Pininfarina design of one of his favorites. And it does, right down to such details as exotic leathers and hand stitching.