Joel Beeby | Design
Joel Beeby

Capstone Blog

Joel's 2017 University of Cincinnati Capstone blog. Most recent updates at top.

Why airport seating?

Flying has been always been an important part of my life. I took my first flight at two months old and have been fascinated by airplanes and airports since a young age. My brother is an airplane aficionado, as kids he'd always flipping through DK cross-section books and hanging posters of jets around his room. While his focus was often on fighters and classic bombers (a love that led him to aerospace engineering school), I am fascinated by commercial flight. The massive organization and flow of people on and off of aircraft all around the world is an intriguing, complex process with a lot of problems to solve.

Flying should be a magical experience. You are able to eat a slice of pizza in pressurized comfort at 550mph while hovering a few miles above the north pole on your way to the other side of the globe. Bizarre, yet so commonplace we hardly think twice about it. Part of this is because of the incredible hassle that flying has become. As a designer, I wanted to create a way to ease some of the pain points for flying. One of the pain points that people often cite happens before the passenger has even boarded the plane – the painful airport waiting experience. How can we make airports more accommodating to passenger needs?

Yes, people are working on napping pods and incredible locally-sourced restaurants instead of the starkness airports used to be known for, but I wanted to address a facility used by all passengers, the gate waiting area. When millions are spent on beautiful terminals, state-of-the-art aircraft, advertising, branding, uniforms, and mobile apps to try and simplify flying, most airports still utilize side-by-side tandem seating that hasn't changed much since the grand train terminals of the 1800's. 


Brian Eno, the prolific British music producer, was inspired to write the world's first ambient album after having a similar thoughts about the disconnection between flight and the process of flying. He thought that airports were fascinating places, but when he heard top 40 being piped into the terminal, he realized that "that everything that was connected with flying was kind of a lie." Instead of blasting pop music, Eno proposed that it would be "much better to have music that said ‘well, if you die, it doesn’t really matter.'" The result is the peaceful droning sounds of Music for Airports, a soundtrack Eno has described as accommodating "many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting."

Why shouldn't the same be true about Furniture for Airports?

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