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Saturday June 29, 2013

From A380s to biz jets

Frenchman Jacques Pierrejean shakes up plane interior design with his now-famous first-class mini suites that Emirates
uses in its A380 superjumbos. Frenchman Jacques Pierrejean shakes up plane interior design with his now-famous first-class mini suites that Emirates uses in its A380 superjumbos.

He wanted to work on film sets. Instead, he became one of the world’s leading interior designers ... for planes.

JACQUES Pierrejean created the now-famous first-class mini suites that Emirates uses in its A380 superjumbos, and has done up governmental jets belonging to ex-French and Italian leaders Jacques Chirac and Silvio Berlusconi.

”I’m kind of the grandfather in all this (plane interior design),” the 61-year-old told AFP in a luxury Paris restaurant. “My company is seen as a research lab.”

Moneyed people flying first class on Emirates’ A380s will remember their experience – not content with plush seats, the airline has given them entire private suites complete with walls, sliding doors, minibars and vanity tables.

A graduate of Paris arts school Ecole Boulle in 1973, he set up his “Pierrejean Design Studio” two years later after travelling in a plane, looking around and noting with shock that the interior was very ugly.

”It’s a niche profession. In France, there are only two of us,” he said, adding that Britain is far better versed in the trade, with more companies dedicated solely to plane interior design.

Pierrejean, who turns 62 next month, explains that his work on private and governmental jets – those carrying Chirac and Berlusconi, or the emir and prime minister of Qatar – helps what he does on commercial aircraft.

When he started working with Emirates in the 1990s, Pierrejean said he had the idea of “allowing first class passengers to travel as if they were in a private jet, just like in a Falcon,” referring to the famed private jet manufactured by French firm Dassault.

But back then, when plane interiors were still impersonal, decking out cabins was a radical concept.

”All engineers were focused on that. It was a revolution of aviation norms, it was unthinkable.”

To enable a complete revamp of first-class and business cabins, engineers had to think of ways to get around technical constraints while still respecting safety norms.

For instance, he decided to get rid of overhead luggage racks to allow for more space and light, but that involved creating space for bags in other places, and also thinking of where to put oxygen masks to respect safety rules.

As for his mini suite, Pierrejean is proud of what has become a product of reference “that features in manufacturers’ catalogues”.

But while he owns the intellectual property rights for the mini suites in Emirates planes, he failed to patent the concept worldwide.

”I let myself be overwhelmed by pleasure, by the fervour of creativity and today, copies abound,” he said.

But it’s not all about first-class cabin designs in Emirates’ A380s or Qatar Airways planes. Pierrejean also works with airlines that have considerably less means, which he says requires even more creativity.

Take Air Mauritius, for instance. “We went for an atmosphere rather than a work of architecture,” he said.

”When he or she entered the plane, the passenger had to immediately be in an island-type atmosphere, in a holiday context. The cabin had to reflect the flora of this magnificent island with green as the dominant colour.” – AFP Relaxnews

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