British Airways this week reveals the final project from its dedicated design management team, which was controversially dismantled earlier this year.
The £100m relaunch of the Club World business class service was overseen by the airline’s head of design management Mike Crump, who was made redundant this summer as part of a cost-cutting exercise (DW 9 March). The design management operation, previously a distinct entity, has now been subsumed into BA’s Brand, Design and Entertainment team, which is itself part of its Brand and Marketing Communications division.
Consequently, Crump’s role as overseer of design strategy across the whole of BA’s business has been divested to design manager Neal Stone and his superior Sara Dunham, who heads up the brand division but does not have a design background, according to a spokeswoman for BA.
Stone leads a three-strong team that oversees design management across major projects at BA, liaising with design consultancies and internal departments and reporting to Jayne O’Brien, general manager for global brand and marketing communications. Although Stone prepares project briefs, consultancy appointments are handled by BA’s procurement division. ‘The central design management team does still exist, although we are smaller,’ says Stone.
The relaunch of Club World features an improved flat-bed seat, designed by Tangerine, and cabin environments by Winkreative. Davies & Baron is continuing to work on an overhaul of Club World lounges, although design details are being kept under wraps by BA. The new lounge design will be installed at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5, due to open in March 2008.
Tangerine spent 18 months to improve on its original flat-bed design for BA. Although occupying the same footprint, the seat space is 25 per cent wider and passengers are 20cm further apart, according to Tangerine managing director Martin Darbyshire.
The design also introduces a new semi-reclined ‘Z-position’, which accommodates taller passengers and allows daytime travellers to sleep without converting the seat into a fully flat bed. A darker headboard and partially opaque dividing screen are designed to ‘cocoon’ the passenger.
‘The majority of Club World passengers may not want to be travelling, so this is an exercise in discomfort management,’ says Darbyshire.
Winkreative founder Tyler Brûlé acted as a consultant on the presentation of the cabins, suggesting the introduction of audio/video on demand and a Club Kitchen where passengers can help themselves to food. Winkreative also designed quilts, soft furnishings, lampshades and lighting schemes, as well as menu graphics.
‘Management of a project like this is a trilogy of cost, weight and lead times,’ says Stone. ‘We have to constantly balance and manage the trade-offs between these.’
British Airways Club World Relaunch:
• Club World is ‘profit engine of BA’
• First flight scheduled for the end of November
• Complete roll-out will be within two years
• 8% increase in business class accommodation planned
• On-line check-in introduced to www.ba.com