front view of the new virgin atlantic airways bar
this spring, the first virgin atlantic airways A330 flight took off from london to new york, featuring a brand new bar and cabin,
offering passengers a new experience when up 30 000 feet in the air. the design has been developed by the international VW + BS studio
in partnership with the virgin atlantic team.
four years ago, VW + BS were approached by virgin with a test brief to see what they could do if they had a free hand to
redesign one of their planes. they researched the changing trends in travel and hospitality to produce an intelligence report
that could form a reference for the client, and determine how these new ideas could be incorporated on board an aircraft.
the existing product that was introduced in 2003 remained a market leader, but trends in travel were changing and virgin
was determined to be the industry innovator. from the test project VW + BS went on to develop the real thing.
the brief was very ambitious: to create an exciting and engaging social space for passengers, while meeting an
immense technical requirement of a wide bodied plane with the strictest safety regulations.
within the airbus, the london-based multi-disciplinary design practice has positioned the bar at the entry point to the plane.
after take-off it becomes a destination. the studio wanted to orient the structure within the space to make this impact
and to create a genuinely convivial area 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. the design's new angled position re-imagines
the interior of the plane to create a variety of smaller social spaces. here you can stand, sit and perch around the counter.
the angles provide many different sight lines, and people can mix in twos, or threes, or just have a quiet drink alone.
sculptural stools offer passengers a place to perch and enjoy a drink high in the sky
the sculptural stools are made from machined aluminium and have a highly polished surface to generate reflections and add
to its sense of immateriality. the wrap around cocoon of the bar provides a seamless skin that contains all of the paraphernalia
(oxygen kits, wheel chair storage etc.) that is required on a modern aircraft, but also works to offer the kit for the front of house:
the glasses, the ice buckets and the bottles of spirits that a bar must contain. the side cabinets for the magazines and spirit bottles
are shaped to fit into this zone, but are cut away at the top for display. the crew side of the bar is open to the passenger
and contains all the typical airline catering carts that are usually on display, but here are hidden away behind carefully designed
but robust doors with custom recessed handles. the result is that every aspect of the bar is rigorously designed for use,
with no superfluous space, including under-counter glass storage for the tumblers and a back – lit angled recess to store the
new champagne coupes.
magazine racks adjacent to the bar
the colour palette is largely neutral: an off-white stone skin for the bar itself and a champagne coloured lacquer finish
for the remaining elements. of course there is a big splash of red – virgin atlantic’s colour – for the front of the bar
and the same espresso leather found on the cabin seats for the stools and perches. the mood can be greatly enhanced
by the RGB lighting effects: different moods and scenes can be created according to the lighting scheme.
there are lighting strips within the cocoon skin and cleverly positioned indirect lighting to enhance the sharp silhouettes
so that the mood is subtle and sophisticated. the result for the passenger is a unique onboard experience, to sip a cocktail at 30000 feet,
perched on a stool at the longest bar in the sky in a futuristic space and let the world fly by underneath.
VW+BS project team (in partnership with virgin atlantic design team) gautier pelegrin – team leader voon wong, ian macready, benson saw,
stephane gouraud, li szu tan, florian dussopt, bravo charlie, mike hotel
the new upper class cabin interior
interior plan of the bar's placement within the airbus
video of the new virgin atlantic bar
designboom has received this project from our 'DIY submissions' feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication.
see more project submissions from our readers here.