Seymour Powell gives economy class a wider berth
Airline seating that gets wider at the touch of a button (and your credit card pin)
Airline seat design still falls into just a couple of categories: eye-poppingly luxurious up front and sardine-can-style for anyone turning right. Foster and Partners showed us what a bespoke first class cabin can look like, with their recent work for Cathay Pacific. But what of the hapless budget traveller, squashed into the bare minimum of space?
Internationally-renowned, product designers Seymour Powell have unveiled a concept that could make such flights a more pleasant and comfortable experience.
Called Morph, their idea is a seat that can change width, and which reclines not back onto the knees of the person behind, but within the fabric of the seat.
As such Morph could be a welcome alternative to a standard seat which “ergonomically has been designed for everyone by averaging the sizes of the largest and smallest percentiles to a point where it fits relatively few people properly”, Seymour Powell explain.
By adjusting the seat and back, the height and depth of the seat can be individually controlled. To achieve this, the designers went back to the drawing board, and threw out individual foam upholstery in favour of one piece of fabric stretched across all three seat bases, and one across all three backs. The fabric is held in place by the armrests and the head dividers, “to form three individual hammock seats”, say the London-based designers. To widen a seat, the head dividers and armrests are moved along.
All well and good, if you have different sized passengers, but what if the proportion of bigger travellers is well, bigger, than the slimmer ones. In Seymour Powell’s model a wider seat would come with a heftier price tag. “This creates a scalable value offer for airlines, allowing them to arrange the economy cabin by people's willingness and ability to pay for space, blurring the boundaries between the classes.”
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