Saturday April 21st 2011, an A330 took off from London to New York with a brand new bar and cabin designed by the VW+BS studio in partnership with the Virgin Atlantic Design Team. We had been approached over four years ago by Virgin with a test brief to see what we would do if we had a free hand to redesign one of their planes. We had a lot of fun but we researched very thoroughly the changing trends in travel and hospitality to produce an intelligence report that could form a reference for the client, and to determine how these new ideas could be incorporated on board an aircraft.
The existing product introduced in 2003 remained a market leader but trends in travel were changing and Virgin is determined to be the industry innovator. The brief for the actual project was very ambitious: to create an exciting and engaging social space for passengers and meet the immense technical requirements of a wide bodied plane with the strictest safety regulations.
The entry point for our thinking was that the bar is positioned at the entry point to the plane. It had to make an immediate impression. After take-off, the bar had to become a destination for the Upper Class passengers. We wanted to orient the bar within the space to make this impact and to create a genuinely convivial space, that reflected trends happening on the ground with pop-up bars and the new speak easy, while having an aesthetic that was decidedly futuristic and belonged in the sky.
Design by VW+BS Architecture and Design in partnership with the Virgin Atlantic Design Team
Design team: Gautier Pelegrin, Stephane Gouraud, Florian Dussopt, Liszu Tan, Voon Wong, Benson Saw, Ian Macready
Photographer: Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic Airways