Whether it’s possible to improve upon Herman Miller’s Tandem Sling Seat (above), the streamlined leather and chrome paragon of airport seating designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1962 for Chicago’s O’Hare International, is not the primary concern of the highly competitive world of airport furniture designers. “The trouble with today’s design is it’s hugely fashionable,” Rodney Kinsman of OMK Associates told the Wall Street Journal in the paper’s A-Hed exploration into the world of airport seating. Writer Daniel Michaels watched the sparks fly at the Passenger Terminal Expo 2010, “a global who’s-who of airport seating” held recently in Brussels.
Germany’s Kusch & Co., which debuted its new line designed by Porsche, grabbed attention by hanging seats upside down above its display. Executives from Canada’s Arconas Corp. sported bright red hockey jerseys of the country’s gold-medal Olympic team over suits and ties.
“It’s about fashion,” said Arconas Executive Vice President Pablo Reich, referring to the company’s colorful product line. As in any fashion-conscious industry, egos collided.
Read the full piece for a preview of the seating you may soon be jostling for at increasingly overcrowded boarding gates worldwide. Among them are modular options that have proved “prison-worthy” and hurricane-resistant, seats sheathed in self-sealing polyurethane, clear plastic models made partly from soybeans, and more sophisticated offerings designed for Vitra by Sir Norman Foster and Alberto Meda. But don’t get too comfortable. “For selfish reasons, airports don’t want couches,” said Pascal Berberat, head of Vitra’s airport division. “They want people up and shopping.”