I have always loved the 1950s and 60s for their overriding air of optimism and achievement. The continuing faith in the power of technology to advance the human race – from Juan Manuel Fangio’s spectacular motor racing career to Christiaan Barnard’s pioneering heart transplant and Neil Armstrong’s stroll on the moon.
Of course, my rose-tinted spectacles conveniently filter out the Cold War, Vietnam and fondue sets.
1952 saw the introduction of BOAC’s de Havilland Comet – the world’s first commercial jet airliner. This heralded a ‘skies no-longer the limit’ approach to travel, culminating in the first Concorde test flight in 1969. So what happened next? Did we stop striving for the stars? Has the human race decided we’ve reached all our limits and achieved all our goals?
With the demise of Concorde, the future of air travel now lies in Sir Richard Branson’s hands with the Virgin Galactic service, sometime this century at $200,000 per seat (more on that at a later date).
That’s the future. For those of us wishing to experience the best commercial aviation has to offer today, step forward Qantas and their new A380. Externally the Airbus is a giant people carrier that will never match the glamour of Concorde or the Comet. The Marc Newson-designed interior, however, provides a stunning blend of the elegant simplicity of yesteryear with high-tech entertainment and contemporary pampering.
Australian-born Newson’s muted tones and classic lines take us back to a time when air travel was an exciting prospect, rather than an opportunity to spend several hours in a test tube, sharing recirculated air, germs and body odour.
No stranger to Qantas, Marc Newson previously designed the indulgent first class lounges in Melbourne and Sydney. These fabulous environments send the world-weary traveller on their way in a zen-like state.
Having lived in the UK since 1997, Newson is a prolific industrial designer, turning his hand to luggage, watches, bicycles, trainers and furniture. He remains one of the world’s most influential designers.