TRANSPORTATION | Mach 2 :: Concorde Interiors by Andrée Putman (+ Norman Foster)

I first became aware of Andrée Putman in the ’80s when Michael Budman and Don Green (“the Roots Canada Inc. guys”) brought her over to T.O. to do some projects for Roots. Since then, she has gone on to become France’s »Ambassadrice du style«. The Roots guys know how to pick a winner.

A major retrospective (link, below) of her oeuvre is wrapping up its run in Paris this week.

Air France’s original interiors were designed by the late great Raymond Loewy:

When Putman redesigned them for the ’90s I thought that she had overdone the look. Concordes were notoriously thin machines, with cramped seating and no visual entertainment system (after all, you’d be in New York before you left London!). I think the main entertainment for Concorde’s customers must have been getting sloshed on champers whilst picking away at fine foods served nearly 20 km up there in near-space.

But back to Andrée’s interiors. They’ve grown on me and they do convey a certain French elegance. They were right for the time.

Then I discovered that BA had approached Sir Norman Foster to do a redesign of their Concorde interiors.

The key features of his planned upgrade had to do with the seat design. Drawing inspiration from Charles and Ray Eames’ chairs (yes!), the new seats were to have been covered in ink-blue Connolly leather and fabric with a cradle mechanism, footrest and contoured headrest to support your head after all that champagne. The new design would have been 10% lighter, resulting in fuel savings.

Foster wanted to make the interior of the passenger cabin lighter and brighter by using different lighting filters to give a fresher look that would change to a cool blue wash throughout the cabin when Concorde flew through the sound barrier at Mach one.

The toilets, too, would have had a facelift, getting new opaque wall panels that would have been up-lit and down-lit to increase the sense of space. They would have been done in aqua green colours with stainless steel. Sounds really nice and quite a challenge to Putman’s “luxe hotel” concept from the ’90s.

PHOTO > 1993 Concorde  Deidi Von Schaewen

2000. 07.25 | Aéroport Charles de Gaulle PHOTO > Toshihiko Sato

Nowness | Terence Conran: Flights of Fancy

Nathan Shedroff | Concord Collection

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