How airplane interiors are designed

  • Designing the inside of an airplane isn’t easy.
  • It took 20 different teams at Delta and three and a half years to finish the redesign of the 777 fleet.
  • Before they could debut new cabins, a bin-lift assist, and wireless seat-back TVs, Delta’s team faced weight limits, limited space, and safety regulations.
  • Business Insider got a behind-the-scenes look on board a 777 with the product manager and engineer who helped take the new design airborne.
  • This footage was filmed on February 27, 2020.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcription of the video.

Ashley Garris: What makes our job very challenging is it’s a game of inches. It’s fighting for every little bit of space.

Narrator: Airplane interiors are a battleground among airlines. Who can make 15 hours straight in the air most comfortable, even if you’re stuck in economy? But comfort isn’t the easiest to come by flying in a metal tube 40,000 feet in the sky.

Alice Belcher: There are challenges because you’re in a very small space with a lot of people.

Narrator: We went on board Delta’s redesigned Boeing 777 with the people whose job it is to make flying suck a little less.

Delta announced the redesign of its entire 777 fleet back in 2018. And the airline finished updating the 18 planes in Singapore in early 2020. All four cabins underwent upgrades.

Belcher: When that 777 comes in, it has a very old interior, so they rip it all out and they install everything new. There is thousands of hours of engineering that has to be done to install all that equipment and develop the interface diagrams, develop the certification documentation.

Narrator: While Delta has announced it will retire the Boeing 777 fleet, its facelift can still give us a look into how designers maximize limited space on a plane.

This is Ashley. Ashley identifies what frustrates customers on board and comes up with possible solutions.

Garris: So, in product development, we have thought about every single inch of this aircraft, from the business-class cabin to the size of the closets to the size of the lavatories.

Narrator: Then engineers like Alice figure out how to bring those ideas to life from this fancy lab in Atlanta.

Belcher: What we’re trying to do is figure out, can we take that technologies, and is it ready to be on an airplane with 281 passengers at 30,000 feet flying 400 miles an hour? And then if it is, what we do is we wanna execute it as flawlessly as we possibly can.

Narrator: So, what changes did designers make? We’ll start with business class.

Garris: This whole seat has memory-foam cushioning in it. It’s designed to be like a mattress, basically. For us, it’s all about picking very careful, sustainable, nonflammable materials, but also making sure they’re comfortable as well. We also have all of our controls for the seat here.

What we really work on is also building spatial mock-ups to really determine that every passenger of all sizes is comfortable in this space here. And if not, then we’ll work to adjust. Can we adjust the console size to make it smaller or bigger and give more room here? Every suite also has a fully enclosed door. And if you’re in the center seats, then you also have a privacy divider between the two seats.

Every seat has a leg rest, footrest, got a remote control, got my nice 13.3-inch high-definition IFE screen.

Narrator: That in-flight-entertainment system is wireless, the first of its kind in the industry. It was developed in that fancy lab.

Belcher: This is our IFE lab. What we’ve done with wireless seat-back IFE, we eliminate the ethernet cable, and by eliminating all those cables that are running all over the airplane, we save about a pound per seat. That’s about 281 pounds per aircraft. Basically equates to 1,330 metric tons of carbon-emission savings per year.

Narrator: Alice partnered with the Georgia Tech Research Institute to create a software system in the IFE that could easily be updated with new technology.

Belcher: We can’t set a whole airplane fleet down every two years and redo it all, so we have to think very innovatively. It also has to last a long time. These displays on an A220, that thing flies eight to 12 hours a day, maybe more. It could possibly be on almost that whole time. We worry a lot about reliability as well.

Narrator: Back in Premium Select, beyond the TV, there’s also plugs and USB ports, and a couple other tricks to designing within this small space.

Garris: So, every seat also has a very large tray table. These seats are so far apart that to put a tray table here, I mean, you would really be reaching. So we put the tray table in the arm. The back of the seat’s also grooved out to still give you those extra inches there in your knee space.

This is Delta’s Comfort Plus cabin. We do want to create that open, airy cabin. Part of that also is just the way that the bins are designed, right? So, they’re still high enough up that you have lots of space and headroom. But they’re big enough to be functional, to hold all of our passengers’ bags they’re bringing on board.

All of our passengers usually really care about storage. Probably fits maybe six roller boards. But if I put six roller boards in here, I’m not gonna be able to close it.

Belcher: Delta came to us and said, “Hey, we have this problem. We spend a lot of money on back injuries to flight attendants. Can you guys think of some way to fix it?” And so we were given the challenge to say is there a easier, better way to be able to push up these bins? We partnered with a supplier in Germany to come up with this electromechanical device.

Garris: The bin lift assist will actually click on when this weight reaches 45 pounds, and it will make the close force like I’m closing a bin with only 35 pounds inside.

Narrator: Engineers also had to make the bins durable.

Garris: These bins are probably used, you know, 500 times a year by all our passengers, so that means, just, they take a beating. We have to really be careful about the materials that we put on board to make sure that they’re reliable and robust and not breaking.

This is really where we spend the most time. I think the hardest part of an economy seat is the inches. So, the industry standard on a 777 aircraft is actually to put 10 seats wide. Instead of squeezing in a tenth seat in each row, we maintain nine. Everyone hates getting that middle seat on a long-haul flight, so instead of having two middle seats here in the center, we only have one.

It’s also about giving passengers things to do at their seats while they’re on such a long flight. In the event that the passenger in front of me wants to sleep and they recline their seat, then my screen here tilts so that I can get a better viewing angle regardless of what the passenger in front of me is doing.

Narrator: But the design details extend beyond just the seats and into the whole plane. They added more space in front of the lavatories for people to line up.

Garris: Making sure the aisles are wide enough so that customers can easily get their bags up and down. Flight attendants can also easily push the carts up and down.

Narrator: They also tweaked the lighting system.

Garris: Our full-spectrum LED lighting has seven different lighting scenarios. So, for your meal setting, you’re gonna have a nice, warm orange-red color that is supposed to stimulate hunger. We also have a sunset setting, which is a couple minutes of transition, which actually replicates a sunset on board, and then it takes you to night mode.

As a designer, I’ve sat in these seats, I’ve flown all over the world. I wanna know what the experience is like, and I want to know the customer pain points, mainly because I’ve experienced them, but it’s also my job to try to ease those pain points.

Narrator: But making any changes to a fleet, big or small, takes years.

Garris: We haven’t even talked about certification yet. Every single seat that you sit in has been thoroughly tested to withstand an accident, if that were to ever happen. Every single piece on here is built with all of those certifications and testing before it ever goes on board.

Narrator: Ashley said the 777 redesign took 3 1/2 years.

Garris: And I would say at least 20 different teams at Delta all working together.

Belcher: We came and we tested it. We had some flight attendants come in and try it out. We did the certification and the installation and all the engineering so we could put it on the airplane, make sure it was safe, and flew it away.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in July 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A supercar designer dissects the design of the Acura NSX

  • The NSX is the most notable car in Acura’s line-up
  • The supercar boasts impressive performance, but it’s also one of the more eye-catching designs in recent years.
  • Acura’s executive creative director shared the processes and insights that created the design of the second-generation NSX.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: This is the supercar that turned the automotive industry on its head in the late ’80s. It’s tuned like a Ferrari but as reliable as a Honda – an everyday supercar with an obsessive fan base. And this is the second-generation NSX. It was first released in 2016 with the same mission: design a car that best showcases the company’s engineering, design, and capability. And this is the guy who worked on both designs.

Dave Marek: Hi, it’s Dave Marek. I’m executive creative director for Acura, and today we’re gonna talk about the NSX.

Narrator: Dave sat down to share the design process of the NSX, from sketching to production, and it all starts with these five circles, which represent the car’s wheelbase. The wheelbase is the distance between the front and rear wheels. It’s measured by the amount of wheels that fit in between them. Once the wheelbase and dimensions of the car have been determined, the design team begins building the rest of the car around it.

Dave: So, here’s the front overhang, here’s the rear overhang. And then this is the overall height. The overall length is determined sometimes by hardware or by factory limitation. Then you do kind of… well, the engine and the people. So, this is, like, a V6, then here’s a person. So I’ll do a stick figure. So you have an eyepoint, and the eyepoint is kind of critical. The eyepoint just means you’re looking through the windshield, and what do you see? And then how do you see up, so if you wanna see a stoplight or something, and then how do you see far? So, from that, you kinda start to get a feeling of the platform, and then you say, OK, here’s the overall height. There’s, like, a halo, so I’ll draw the little halo around the head, around the passenger, or the driver. And that determines where the roof is, so then the hip point is below. That determines where the seat is based on the chassis and platform. So you do that, and then you’re good. I have a kind of layout of where the engine is and where the door has to be ’cause of the guy. Or girl. So then, you know, I have a belt line, which, the belt is the side glass. So this is where you put your arm up when you’re driving. That’s the belt line. So you’re looking out, so you have this belt line. The higher the belt, the more nastier a car is, but it also is harder to see out of. So it’s a package drawing. So the package drawing is literally a side view of the car with the people in it, and the engine kind of layout, and the luggage, whatever it has.

Narrator: Once the package drawing is complete and everyone has an idea of what the final car is, the design team used the first-generation NSX to inspire the features and characteristics of the new design. So the challenge became updating design elements to feel like they belonged in the new century, like the original’s taillight, which ran the full length of the rear.

Dave: So, I think one of the first things on this is the fact that the taillights, which, you know, it’s kind of that tried and true, everybody knows what the kind of original looks like. It had the full-width light that wrapped around. You know, we had a lot of sketches of it with it. It went through a lot of iterations, full-width, and then separated, and, you know, it just kept going back to, what does the actual original feel like? So, basically, the original car has this kind of feel to it with, this was open. So, this is the taillight from the original. So we wanted to make sure this felt like it wrapped around, and, you know, that full-width-taillight feel. Some of the other cues, you know, the blackout roof, we did a lot of iterations of it. It kept being we would’ve had to really revise how we blended the aero and the fender. So it’s not always a styling cue, it’s a, you know, circumstance. For instance, there’s a vent behind the front wheel, like, right behind it, and the vent is kind of, to me, it was extraneous. The amount of airflow and downforce, it was, like, tremendous how much help that was. And I think that, you know, that vent right here, that lended to… A, it was, we had to do it, from a functional standpoint. And then now, it’s kind of like, yeah, it kind of, it’s part of the car. Make it as good as we can. You know, that kind of thing.

Narrator: What Dave is saying is there’s a lot that goes into designing a car. Some of it you can control, but other things, like the front fender vent and legacy of the brand, are less flexible, and those aren’t the only inputs that Dave has. A large part of the design process is creating a real functioning example of the car, and that’s what Acura did with its NSX concept car in 2012. The concept gave the team a chance to examine the work they’ve done thus far and realized what it was missing.

Dave: You know, that car was super clean, but almost not as mean, and that’s when we decided to turn the motor. So we changed the motor, and once we did that, it lengthened the wheelbase and it made the proportion become much snottier, much better for me, but it was still like, we want people to get in and out of it and be easy to drive and all that stuff, so, and we had a lot of people in this car saying it should be more like this, more like that. You know, the show car is about right here, the highlight, so that opening comes through about there, and then this, we lowered that down, and it makes a much more elegant line through there, and that kinda helps the car feel like it’s moving forward, and the other one was great. It was more sheer and more clean, but I think having the big opening from front view is much more powerful and more performance-car feeling. Usually, we’re going the other way, going, “OK, that’s too much.” You know, “Back up a little.” And we were going the other way, which, you know, everybody’s like, “Wow, this is gonna be great.” You know, the NSX, it’s the epitome of precision, craft, and performance. At the end of the day, we wanna make these cars to resonate with not just the buyers, but every other buyer. You know, the Conquest buyer go, “What is that?” You walking up going, “That’s an NSX!” That can’t make me happier than anything, is that.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in May 2020. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

I help Hermès collectors buy and sell used Birkin bags. They’re almost impossible to get in stores, but I’ve sold nearly $2 million worth through eBay and online.

Hermes So Black 28cm Box Calf Feather Kelly Rigid.JPG
“It’s a handbag, a piece of art, and an investment all rolled into one,” says Caroline Bui, aka The Birkin Fairy.

  • Caroline Bui is the founder and owner of ‘The Birkin Fairy,’ a luxury consignment shop for Hermès products.
  • After working at Hermès for 12 years, she launched the online shop and has since sold nearly $2 million of used Hermès items. 
  • This is her story, as told to freelance writer Jenny Powers.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

It was 1984 when Hermès debuted The Birkin Bag, a handcrafted leather carryall featuring two sturdy top handles and a lock and key closure to ensure all of the bag’s contents remained inside the bag. At the time, the bag, named for British actress and singer Jane Birkin, retailed for approximately $2,000 to $3,000. 

The Birkin Bag would one day become the most sought after bag in the world, a status symbol creating legions of fans and spurring a years-long waiting list of eager buyers from around the globe willing to pay five to six figures for a single bag.

I’ve been interested in fashion since I was a child.

I spent many summers accompanying my grandmother to local garage sales. Born in 1920 and having survived the Great Depression, my grandmother was understandably frugal and recognized the value in good quality objects. 

Caroline Bui  Hermes
Bui holding Hermès bags.

We would sift through items in search of jewelry and pottery that she would later resell for a higher price at her own garage sale. She was an incredible salesperson, and while I didn’t realize it at the time, these experiences taught me the joy and exhilaration of the hunt which would later define my interest in collectible objects that retain or gain value. 

When I turned 17, I spent the summer living in New York City studying fashion illustration and draping at Parsons School of Design. Upon graduating high school, I went on to The Art Institute of Chicago where I earned a BFA while working in sales at Chicago’s newly opened Ralph Lauren store.

Diploma in hand, I returned to New York in 1999 taking on a series of fashion editorial-related jobs at Conde Nast rotating between Mademoiselle, Self, and Allure before moving on back to retail. 

I fell in love with the social component of fashion while working in retail.

While I became accustomed to being surrounded by luxury products, what really fueled my interest in fashion was engaging with customers and helping them find what they wanted. In 2001, I decided I wanted to return home to Chicago and so I requested a job transfer to the location where I’d initially worked.

The following year, I took a sales position at Hermès.

Back then there were only eight of us in the Chicago store, and we were each assigned an area of specialty. Mine was leather goods and scarves – not because I possessed any special knowledge in those areas, but simply because that was the section that needed to be filled at the time. 

As part of my training, I was invited to travel to Paris where I had the opportunity to meet with the craftsman, tour the distribution facilities, and pay a visit to the Hermès Museum, a venue exclusively reserved for staff and select guests. My new work aligned perfectly with my art history background and for me, every transaction was like selling a piece of art. 

Over the years, I assisted thousands of customers and sold countless Birkin Bags.

In fact, one of my longtime customers who was a collector referred to me as “The Birkin Fairy” or “Fairy” for short because my position allowed me to grant Hermès wishes.  

Everyone knows that getting your hands on a Birkin Bag of your own is no easy task. Demand surpasses supply. It takes 48 hours to handcraft a single bag and production is limited. 

Caroline Bui Hermes
A pile of boxed Hermès products in Bui’s home.

It’s almost impossible to be able to walk into a store and buy a Birkin off the shelf. You can put in a request for one, but no one knows how long you’ll be waiting. They’ve even placed a limit on how many Birkins a client may purchase each year. All of these factors have caused a thriving resale market.

Even after working at Hermès for 10 years, I had to get special permission from the powers that be to buy one for myself as a gift when my daughter was born in 2011. A few years later, I managed to acquire a second, less expensive one for $3,000 as part of an employee sale of handbags that do not pass the company’s quality standards and are therefore only offered to employees.

By 2013, I was a married mother of two and wanted to spend more time at home with my family.

In search of more flexibility, I began interviewing at other companies, but when a longstanding client asked if I could help her sell 20 pieces of her Hermès collection, I decided to go out on my own in a different direction.

In 2014, I set up shop from a tiny desk in my bedroom. I invested $2,000 to buy a domain name, build a website, and secure a few basic supplies before officially launching The Birkin Fairy, a secondary luxury marketplace selling pre-owned Hermès products.

The first bag I sold was an orange Birkin that at the time was nine years old. My client originally paid $6,600 for it in 2005, and it sold for $8,700 in 2014.

Hermes Orange 35cm Birkin in Epsom Leather with Gold Hardware. Caroline Bui
This orange bag is the first Birkin Bui sold as The Birkin Fairy.

To date, I’ve sold nearly $2 million of Hermes products online through my website and Ebay.  I sell all items on consignment, brokering transactions on behalf of my clients for a commission ranging anywhere from 18 to 30%. 

All my business is via word of mouth – I’ve never spent a dollar on customer acquisition.

I’m truly a one-woman operation from photographing products to acquiring and selling merchandise to shipping to social media, where I have over 81,000 organic Instagram followers.

Before COVID-19, I traveled across the country to meet with sellers, helping them do everything from evaluate their inventory and determine what they’d like to sell to help them authenticate, organize, and care for their items. One of my clients in Los Angeles wound up having $505,000 worth of Hermès handbags sitting in her closet and after reevaluating the contents, we ended up selling $50,000 worth of handbags and acquiring six new pieces for $98,000. 

My site has featured everything from a well-worn Birkin that sold for $8,000 to the $150,000 So Black feather Kelly Bag that I have up for sale right now, which is only one of two bags ever made.

While I have worked with some celebrities, most of my clients are just regular folks with amazing closets.

The resale market for Birkin Bags has always been robust.

This is because there is so much more inventory online and it’s readily available – for a price. The pandemic has driven more interested buyers online and helped grow my business due to inventory shortages, production delays, and store closures. 

One study from 2017 revealed that over 35 years, the value of Birkin bags rose 500%, with an annual increase of 14%. When you buy a Ferrari and drive it off the lot, it immediately loses value. When you take a Birkin Bag home, depending on how rare it is and how it’s maintained, it has the potential to increase in value. It’s a handbag, a piece of art, and an investment all rolled into one.

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