Airlines have tried all sorts of ways to help them stand out from the crowd. Remember British Airways’ rebrand back in the late 1990s, with its selection of eclectically ethnic tail fins? That one, despite garnering much attention, was short-lived. Normally, the approach by national carriers is more corporate and straight-faced than that. Think Swiss Air’s sleek reinvention as Swiss. Of course the so-called budget airlines have been good at having some fun with their image – to distract passengers, perhaps, from the lack of service.
Now Finnish airline Finnair seems to be attempting to combine the two approaches, but adding some much-needed good taste to the sector at the same time. It’s teamed up with Finnish textile and clothing design house Marimekko. So the 60-year-old company’s classic floral prints will appear on-board the airline’s entire fleet, and on the livery of two aircraft.
Come spring 2013, passengers will be eating off Marimekko tableware, surrounded by Marimekko textiles. And for those lucky long-haul passengers, two planes will sport floral designs, including an Airbus A340 decked out in Maija Isola’s Unikko poppy print from 1964.
Mika Vehviläinen, Finnair CEO, has high hopes for the collaboration: “Finnair aircraft will become roving ambassadors of timeless Finnish design and creativity, giving our customers a special experience when they fly with us.”
And Mika Ihamuotila, Marimekko’s president and CEO, is clearly thrilled by the new venture: “Lately, we have wanted to connect Marimekko’s colourful design and fashion with surprising parties and forms of art, such as ballet, modern dance or visual arts. Now it is time to do something unforeseen up in the sky. I believe that the Marimekko and Finnair design collaboration will bring to hectic and often grey air travel joy, peace of mind and beautiful memories.”
There’s also a savvy merchandising opportunity here for the airline, with Marimekko pieces on sale on-board and in Finnair’s Plus Shop. What’s more, both brands are keen to push further into Asian markets, and must feel that this design-led approach will appeal to potential customers in the Far East. In fact no matter where you’re based, the promise of a Marimekko-designed flight would be enough to encourage an aesthetically-aware traveller to book with Finnair.
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