In a collaboration between the Live Well Collaborative and Boeing, a multidisciplinary team of designers, engineers, and graduate students were tasked with using the principles of inclusive design and state of the art technologies to create innovations that disrupt the travel experience. Areas to consider included in-flight experience, food delivery systems, and luggage services. From these considerations several concepts emerged, one of which redesigned the cabin interior to offer a fresh and innovative approach to travel.
The team responsible for the creation of the Coffee House Cabin was part of a larger studio project, whose premise was to explore innovation opportunities in terms of the future of luxury air travel. Traditionally, luxury within the airline industry has been perceived as a very high-end and expensive experience, one in which only a select number of passengers are able to fully enjoy its amenities and potential. Starting with first class passengers, with their unmatched personal space, customization and on-board services, then looking at business class and newer price points such as economy plus, the Live Well team began to explore how airlines identify new market segments in which a unique experience is offered to their passengers. The team’s main research insight was, “How can we make new luxury accessible?” In essence, how can we offer a luxury experience to all passengers, regardless of their seating arrangements?
After conducting additional research and interviewing flight attendants and personnel from Delta Airlines, the team gathered that the concept of luxury had multiple meanings. From having more personal space, to offering more on-board entertainment, to sensory-depravation and privacy, each of these topics held the premise of a new innovation in the luxury experience for air travel.
The Coffee House Cabin team, composed of an industrial designer, a transportation designer, and a master’s candidate for future mobility systems and design research, was guided by the Live Well and Boeing throughout the iterative process to create disruptive ideas in the realm of new luxury within air travel. Several 2D concepts were proposed in sketch form, and further research into analogous industries, such as hotel and hospitality, were conducted. At this point, the team found inspiration from the experience provided by coffee houses. Coffee house environments are unique since they offer a desirable experience with maximum productivity and some customization, without high comfort or privacy. This became the team’s seed idea for further development.
The team generated more detailed sketches of what a potential ‘Coffee House’ seating zone would look like and started creating multiple 3D models and physical mockups of the work areas to validate the potential of introducing an entirely new seating zone into the aircraft. Additionally, the team utilized cutting-edge virtual reality ideation software to illustrate these spaces in an immersive environment and quickly iterate from them. The validation provided by this new workflow was essential to inform the refinement stages of this process.
Several possible layouts of the Coffee House Cabin were created in virtual reality and, based on feedback from Boeing and the Live Well team, the students responsible for the Coffee House Cabin concept began refining the final direction. This direction consisted of an entirely new mixed-use seating zone targeting the needs of business travelers. By offering a productivity-driven experience with ample surface work areas, power options, and workspace customization, this new seating zone intends to appeal to business travelers and groups of travelers who need to collaborate while in flight, without having to pay for first class seats.
The final concept proposed by the Live Well team addressed all ergonomic considerations for this new layout, from aisle space, to personal space and storage while seated, to safety considerations for takeoff and landing. For the final presentation of the Coffee House Cabin concept, all detailed imagery of the individual seating configurations and the entire mixed-use seating zone were created. Some of the interactions, such as the reconfiguration of the seats for takeoff and landing and the entertainment screens, were animated. A final VR immersive model of the Coffee House Cabin was presented as validation of the viability of this innovative concept.
Since the completion of the Coffee House Cabin concept, several key recognitions have been received. First, Boeing filed a patent application for this work, which marks Live Well’s 14th IP filing with Boeing over the course of 10 years working together.
Additionally, the Coffee House Cabin concept was named a finalist for the 2020 Crystal Cabin Awards, the industry’s academy awards of airline interiors, held in Hamburg, Germany.
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