Design by Sylvain Mariat, Head of Airbus Corporate Jet Centre Design Studio
1. Presentation of the Airbus ACJ319 Bluejay cabin concept
The Bluejay project proposed by the Airbus Corporate Jet Centre (ACJC) and Sylvain Mariat, Head of the ACJC Creative Design Studio, aims to take maximum benefit from the unique space that is provided by the ACJ319. Intentionally realistic, this design has nonetheless been inspired by the avant-gardism, shapes and colours of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, Stanley Kubrick’s movie.
This inspiration led Sylvain Mariat to use new technologies. From the entrance, passengers enter a contemporary atmosphere, being welcomed by a fine hologram display. This new system, never before seen aboard a corporate jet, displays the name of arriving guests in soft blue tones, offering a modern complement to the classical crew welcome.
The keystone of this contemporary cabin is the use of light and space in perspectives that can be modulated via translucent partitions between the forward lounge and the dining area. These partitions use the latest generation of switchable glass, going from transparent to translucent, and vice versa. This system offers a wonderfully flexible cabin arrangement that can be modified on-demand, via a simple on/off switch, offering social interactions or privacy, depending on passengers’ mood.
The partitions also act as a loudspeaker, using a technology that make the glass vibrate like a diaphragm, providing concert hall-like sound. “While creating this concept, I thought of 2001’s soundtrack and imagined how it could be fantastic to listen to the opening from Richard Strauss’ tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra”, says Mariat.
The contemporary design is also highlighted by the use of innovative decorative and furnishing items. The master piece is a decorative light made by the French crystal house Baccarat, using fibres of carbon and crystal, emphazing the contrast of delicate and strong. Nested at the heart of a flat carbon fibre surface, the fine light of the crystal glows from the central solar sphere, surrounded by a constellation of LED pendants. For the VIP seats, Mariat was inspired by the avant-gardism of the revolutionary Lounge Chair & Ottoman made by the famous American designer Charles Eames.
To offset the contemporary atmosphere, Mariat worked on a traditional symbol of travel: the trunk. “I wanted it to represent the ancestral French know-how of trunk manufacture, by using leather, wood and crystal inserts”, says Mariat. The interior padding, made of nubuck, allows owners to offer their guests the finest Baccarat glassware and other prestige items.
Social interactions were also an important concern for Mariat, whose work in the dining area led him to create a High-Low table, recently developed by ACJC’s Design Office team. This new dining table uses special extensions at its extremities to seat five people without adding new seats (the baseline table seats four).
As gastronomy is an important part of a convivial atmosphere, Mariat has dedicated a special U-shaped galley to offer a spacious separate area to the crew, where they can work with ease. “ACJC’s design office had previously developed a U-shaped galley - the first one on an Airbus ACJ aircraft – so I wanted to improve again on this specific know-how to offer a real kitchen in which to cook marvellous meals for guests”, explains Mariat.
Mariat has also used a specific shape in a private area: the washroom. “I really wanted a very contemporary design for this area, which must be both spacious and ergonomical. That is the reason why I designed a large square shower, with glossy paint and metal, which is very bright and airy”, he adds.
For this cabin project, the refinement is essentially made by the difference of textures, rather than the use of several colours and opulent materials. Clear tones and noble materials are mainly used to enhance space, with carpets made of silk and wool, VIP seats upholstered with the highest quality leather, smoked oak with satin varnish in combination with a glossy paint for furnishing. “Luxury and space are the basics, but the added value of a designer goes also from an initial perception of emotions to the final attention to details. My goal is to create a harmony, an ambiance, a place where luxury is not only about precious materials and opulence but refinement, good taste and elegance”, says Mariat.
This elegance is strengthened by the external livery concept created by Mariat. “As I used cold colours in the cabin, I wanted to extend this concept to the external livery. I chose a very contemporary combination of blue tones and silver, directly inspired by the plumage of a beautiful and refined bird called the Bluejay, which is also the concept’s name”, he adds.
“Each design I produce at the Airbus Corporate Jet Centre - like the one presented here - is unique, optimised, tailor-made, a one-of-a-kind product that provides the best balance between the owner’s taste, function and technical constraints, such as weight & balance, certification, systems, safety, etc. This realistic cabin concept is a good example, combining all these features”, concludes Mariat.
2. Airbus ACJ319 Bluejay creative design special features
The VIP seat
Lounge Chair is one of the most famous designs created by Charles and Ray Eames. Created in 1956, it is now a classic in the history of modern furniture. The ACJC Design Studio has decided to reinterpret it for its ACJ319 Bluejay cabin concept.
This unique VIP seat inspired by Eames’ Lounge Chair combines ultimate comfort with both top of the range materials and the highest excellence of workmanship. Following the tradition of the English club chair - which inspired the classic design of Charles and Ray Eames’ Lounge chair – the VIP seat designed by Sylvain Mariat features a dark wood veneer in smoked oak and light grey leather. With high quality leather, bright satin finish for metal plating and oak veneer in a light satin finish, this new interpretation of Eames’ Lounge Chair harmonises perfectly with the Bluejay cabin concept light-coloured interiors.
The kitchen area
To guarantee an exclusive ambience offering unequalled luxury and convenience in the ACJ319 Bluejay cabin concept, the ACJC Design Studio has decided to improve a new generation of U-shaped galley, offering a spacious separate area concept to the crew. “ACJC’s design office had previously developed a U-shaped galley - the first one on an Airbus ACJ aircraft – so I wanted to improve again on this specific know-how to offer a real kitchen in which to cook marvellous meals for guests”, explains Mariat.
The ACJC Design studio has chosen a worktop in satin-finish glass, providing an exciting contrast with the warm driftwood frontage of the galley. The aluminium backbone of the kitchen unifies the wood and glass materials, creating a sophisticated, practical and purist design.
This luxury kitchen concept has been developed in cooperation with the ACJC Design Office team. The team has particularly worked on an innovative handleless unit concept: a precision system automatically opens and shuts the galley’s doors in response to a slight push. Doing away with handles emphasises the furniture's uncompromisingly purist look.
The master bedroom and washroom area
The master bedroom concept includes a queen size bed and a large sofa, all topped by five reading lamps. The Baccarat decorative light is used again in this private area to enhance the aesthetic style of this contemporary room. As in the rest of the VIP cabin, the latest technologies are present with a 46-inch HDTV flat display and an iPod docking station.
The VIP bathroom features a granite vanity and an oversized glass shower. “I really wanted a very contemporary design for this area, which must be both spacious and ergonomical. That is the reason why I designed a large square shower, with glossy paint and metal, which is very bright and airy”, Mariat explains.
3. Interview of Sylvain Mariat, Head of ACJC Design Studio
What is your definition of design?
“My objectives are not only luxury and space, they are certainly the basics but the added value of a designer goes also from an initial perception of emotions to the final attention to details. My goal is to create a harmony, an ambiance, a place where luxury is not only about precious materials and opulence but refinement, good taste and elegance.
Another aspect of my work is focused on wellbeing of passengers and ergonomics that are also major drivers to be taken into account without which the most beautiful cabin would be nonsense.
All of the above makes that each design is unique, optimized, tailor-made, a one-of-a-kind product that provides the best balances in between the owner’s taste, the functionalities and the technical constraints (weight & balance, certification, systems, safety, etc).
Despite being involved in a large number of different projects, my final goal is always the same, that to express the order and in an essential way, the simplicity. By simplicity I do not mean minimalism but obvious fact. I am used to mentioning a quote from the French philosophe Gaston Bachelard: We can indeed draw the simple only after an in-depth study of the complex.”
How do you find inspiration?
“First of all, I am curious by nature and I always examine the world with my eyes wide open. When I was child, I was fascinated by the atmosphere of the aeronautics; it is a universe of curves, tubes, colors and objects with organic forms.
For a VIP cabin programme, my inspiration is mainly based on the customer’s history and culture, in order to subtly reflect them in the cabin design. To have a clear image of what he wants, we have developed within the Creative Design Studio of Airbus Corporate Jet Centre our own trend boards to anticipate the future trends of luxurious products. We define several kinds of ambiance by means of various pictures of cars, clothes, watches, jewels, architecture concepts, etc., so we present them to the customer. This is the first tool supporting the prospective approach to discover what the specific design intent of what a customer wants.
Drawing my inspiration from various fields like luxury hotels, automotive, travels and jewellery, I am always looking for the latest innovations in materials, colours and shapes. Having travelled a lot and designed VIP cabins for a worldwide clientele, I am now experienced in creating eclectic designs.”
What is the Airbus Corporate Jet Centre Design Studio characteristic?
“The ACJC Creative Design Studio uses the best of tradition and modernity to provide the highest quality of upholstery and cabinetry for our clients’ aircraft.
As in an haute-couture workshop, I work in close cooperation with the highly specialised craftsmen of ACJC, some of whom are the only ones in the world with such know-how.
Together, we use a wide range of high quality materials including metal, wood, fabrics, stone and more. We make all those noble elements coexisting with pioneering solutions like, for instance, optic fiber mixed with wood. This know-how positions us as a leader in innovation. It is what makes us a leader in new decorative process. For instance, we have recently obtained the certification green light about the first real Chinese Lacquer, thanks to the good work of our Material Department.
But artistic design and materials are nothing without the last innovative systems on-board like moodlighting, live TV, AVOD, Satellite communications for Internet and telephony with Wi-Fi access. Our clients know well what the real VIP standard is in term of materials and systems. Of course, anything which is commonly used at home on the ground is required to fly in our cabins. I would say that state-of-the-art quality is the key.”
4. Airbus Corporate Jet Centre
Dedicated to providing quality cabin-outfitting and innovative packages of customised nose-to-tail services for Airbus ACJ family aircraft, the Airbus Corporate Jet Centre (ACJC) is small enough to provide personal service to customers, with around 270 employees, but is also backed by the full resources of its shareholder, Airbus, the world's largest manufacturer of modern airliners.
Based in Toulouse, France, ACJC has already contracted with prestigious customers in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. It attributes its success to a strong technical background, plus highly skilled employees that have now completed thirteen ACJ cabins. Including former EADS Sogerma deliveries, Airbus Corporate Jet Centre is now the world leader for ACJ319/ACJ320 VIP cabin completion having delivered 24 VIP cabins for Airbus aircraft.
The Airbus Corporate Jet Centre also specialises in tailor-made services and maintenance for ACJs, including the A320, A330 and A340 families. Increasing its teams and the capacity of its facilities, in 2009 the company launched “VIP Pass”, a package of nose-to-tail services developed for executive and private operators of Airbus corporate jets.