Airport seating is often uncomfortable, repetitive, and built simply to maximize the number of people in the gate area. I started to look and see where similar spaces exist, spaces where people are being "held" and waiting. Coffee shops, open offices, hotel lobbies, and even living rooms all came to mind. I looked for unique, thought-provoking solutions as well as solutions with visual appeal.
In looking for comparable markets, I spoke with RJE Business Interiors for insights into trends they are seeing in the public seating realm. They spoke to systems like Knoll's Horsepower, with it's modularity, and DIRTT movable walls with the option to create branded spaces. What they also mentioned were office trends like "resimercial" and "third place," where more comfortable spaces resembling a living room encourage employees to work in the office and to enjoy coming to work. These trends are mostly seen in office settings, but could certainly translate to an airport space.
When an airport's revenue is dependent on concessions and sales per passenger, it only makes sense that the gate area become a more comfortable and welcoming environment. People will be encouraged to arrive at the airport earlier and more likely to visit restaurants or cafes if they know they can rest comfortably at the gate. Having these kinds of amenities also attracts airlines to certain airports over others, knowing their passengers will be more comfortable and more likely to fly the airline again. That being said, what are some bold projects that could change the way we think about airport seating?
Buzzispace's Buzzijungle is a really interesting spin on fitting the most people in a small space and allowing for all different kinds of seating, reclining, and standing. It's a bit like the double-decker couch of Lego movie fame.
Lapalma's ADD system nails the aesthetics and brings to mind some interesting configurations beyond just back-to-back seating. The floating table allows people to have a laptop workstation, a place to eat, or a place just to charge a phone without sacrificing seat room for a table. Other elements of the system with the switchback seating and exquisite coloring are inspiring for potentially more unique and versatile seating.
PROOFF developed a concept in 2013 with a unique connection between the desktop and seating, creating potential for many different uses. The whole collection has pieces that allow for semi-private group meetings, individual isolation, and examples like this with lots of open collaborative space.
Each of these pieces utilizes furniture in spatially unexpected ways. Applying their creative imagining, I hope to bring a level of playfulness and comfort to airports.