PearsonLloyd was commissioned to design Lufthansa’s first fully flat Business Class seat for the airline’s new fleet of 747-8i stretched jumbo jets. The challenge set by Lufthansa was tough: headcount must be economically viable; a comfortable and private environment must be provided; the cabin should feel light and spacious, and passengers must face forward.
In order to achieve the above, PearsonLloyd based its design on the development of a new seat layout: a ‘V’ configuration that angles passengers diagonally towards each other to provide space for flat beds of 1.98m. The studio’s research revealed that passengers experience a feeling of privacy if their head and shoulders are enclosed – even if their feet are in close proximity to others’. By exploiting this space saving technique, PearsonLloyd’s design enabled the airline to maintain a healthy headcount, while preserving each individual passenger’s feeling of personal space.
Each ‘V’ shaped double seat is cocooned in a modular outer shell; while this acts as a privacy shield, just a slight tilt of the head enables passengers travelling together to face towards each other and interact. Each seat moves seamlessly from upright to horizontal via a bespoke passenger control unit, which enables both set and customisable positions. The modular seat and cabin system are designed to work across Lufthansa’s entire fleet. Easy to move components mean the seats can be re-organised pre-flight depending on the number of customers flying per class.
To keep the cabin feeling light and airy, PearsonLloyd made the outer shells as low as possible. Cabin monuments are half the height of standard monuments, enabling extended sightlines across the space. This sense of space is not just an illusion; the new seat layout increases corridor room, so passengers and crew can pass each other.
An entirely new colour and materials palette was created for Lufthansa, to build a new brand identity and give the cabin a more domestic atmosphere. The soft hazel leather lining of the outer shells is a development of Lufthansa’s yellow, and also provides acoustic benefits, and a new textile was developed for the silver seat. A new generation of in-flight entertainment system is housed within the outer shell; the unit can be slid out for a perfect viewing angle during flight, and angled during take-off and landing. The centre console incorporates many of the essential functions but also provides demarcation of real estate between the two users with a wide armrest.
While ergonomics was at the forefront of PearsonLloyd’s design, so too was an agenda to improve the ability to maintain the seats, and all of the components are designed to be repaired with ease. Unusually, the skin of the outer shell is replaceable so the high level of finish can be maintained. Additionally, because the seats are modular they can be reconfigured to fit a variety of aircraft types with few changes.
The final product offers a coherent design concept across the fleet, placing Lufthansa at the vanguard of business-class seat design. Indeed, since its launch in spring 2012, record numbers of customer satisfaction have been recorded and Lufthansa is now retro-fitting its long haul fleet with PearsonLloyd’s design.