The Next Frontier For Public Art? Airline Tray Tables
Wieden + Kennedy commissions 12 artists to deck out Delta's airline trays.
The restless hours of airplane travel are typically spent sleeping awkwardly, bartering for an extra mini bag of pretzels, and crying to bad movies. Less typical? Casually taking in some original art while 30,000 feet in the air.
Unless you end up on one particular Delta flight, that is: The airline recently paired up with Coca-Cola to transform its boring airline tray tables in the main cabin into vibrant works of art. The companies tapped the New York office of Wieden + Kennedy to lead the promotional effort, and the ad agency commissioned 12 different artists to design a tray. These included the likes of Noma Bar, Stevie Gee, Paola Gracey, and Alex Yanes—each of whom were assigned a city to depict in their own distinct style.
As a result, Delta passengers might pull down their tray to illustrator Pedro Campiche's street-art inspired New York City skyline, or Bar's spare and colorful nod to London weather. Gracey's scene made of paint drips, glitter, and epoxy resin represents the lights and neon signs of Tokyo. It's a clever stealth advertising strategy. The trays feel custom-designed to be shared on Instagram—and among passengers who would normally be more inclined to complain about Delta rather than promote it. (Tagged "behind-the-scenes" photos are also popping up on the participating artists' Instagrams.) Think of them as a bright spot to otherwise drab airplane interiors—not to mention inspired surfaces for your complimentary soda water.
Josiane, connue pour être la Chataigne sauvage, souhaite que nous soyons "Sauvage" en ce mois de février 2017. Lors des mes dernières tribulations en Afrique Australe, j'ai été fort bien servie pour la partie sauvage : nature sauvage, animaux sauvages, etc. Ici la photo a été prise sur le delta de l'Okavango au Botswana, ces hippopotames (qui sont, bien que herbivores, les plus grands tueurs d'hommes en Afrique) nous observaient, nous, les sauvages touristes armés d'appareils photos ;-)
Why It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Boeing’s Iconic 747
We’ve already lost the beautiful Concorde to excessive cost and tragedy, but now another one of world’s most iconic airline designs is due to follow.
The Boeing 747, an icon that harkens back to another time of flying (think the Pan Am glory days), is set to fade away.
Cathay Pacific flew their last 747 flight back in October, and United and Delta are phasing the aircraft out this year. I flew on one of the final Cathay flights, and the magic of ascending upstairs into the bubble for one of the last times will be a fond part of my traveling memories.
Patrick Smith, in his Ask the Pilot column astutely calls the jet the Empire State Building of jetliners: “It’s no longer the biggest or the flashiest, but its still the grandest and most historically significant.”
The 747 was the first to plane to allow long-distance travel with with a large amount of passengers, and not all of them rich ones. It took international travel from the realm of the well-to-do into the middle class. That alone is quite a significant achievement in terms of lives changed and borders made smaller.
But the real appeal for many is the aesthetics. With a signature bubble on the top, the plane also is a joy to watch on final approach, with an element of grace that you don’t see from other aircraft models. It has a strange, organic feeling for a large chunk of steel with wings.
In Mark Vanhoenacker’s beautiful book, Skyfaring, he dedicates a chapter to discuss why pilots find the plane so special. It comes down to this organic design: “Perhaps it recalls a natural relationship—that of the head of a bird, a swan perhaps, to a long body and wide wings. Joseph Sutter, the 747’s lead designer, was drawn to birds as a child—eagles, hawks, ospreys. He might be pleased to know that his achievement has come full circle, that a writer on the wildlife of Virginia has described the great blue heron as the ‘747 of the swamp.”
The iconic bubble, initially added allow for a cargo door to be fitted to the nose, started out being used as a First Class lounge in some of the golden days of jet travel. After the 1973 fuel crisis, most airlines — wait for it —added more seats, a trend that carries on today.
The industry has moved onto focus on more cost effective two-engine planes that can land at a wider variety of airports. Though some of the later models of the 747 will still be in the air, Boeing’s order book for the plane has dwindled and the plane is settling into the twilight of its storied career.
While there are newer, flashier and more fuel efficient planes, when I’m on the road and gazing out the window at Helsinki Vantaa or Singapore’s Changi, the sight of a 747 still makes me smile. In addition to the iconic and timeless beauty of the silhouette, it is the plane that brought the possibility of air travel to more people, and also made Boeing a household name.