During my tour of the new Finnair A350 from Hamburg to Helsinki, I was especially struck by the capitalisation on light against a neutral canvas.
The walk through reminded me of another, way back when, working on the new image program for USAirways, when they changed out their interiors to a silver-grey. I originally thought that design might be dull, but it turned out to be a glorious capitalisation on natural light entering through the windows.
That was over fifteen years ago, and we’ve learned a lot more about cabin design principles as an industry since, we’ve added technology features to the cabin we couldn’t have imagined back then, become far more sophisticated in use of space and materials and light.
Fast-forward to today and it’s easy to see the light gains from the A350’s larger windows. Add to that Finnair’s mood lighting, with glowing effects programmed into a cool Northern Lights display and a Warm Asia theme, add the opalescent effect of the aircraft’s light grey-white structures, and the Finnair A350 interior positively glows.
Space is generous inside an A350, and the Finnair cabin design optimises all that room, ensuring passenger comfort.
The airline’s CEO, Pekka Vauramo, told reporters that Finnair hopes to deliver a Nordic experience to passengers from the moment they come onboard, and the airline has succeeded.
The simplicity of this A350 design is sophisticated elegance, in the best tradition of Nordic aesthetic. But details reflect Nordic whimsy and a love of nature.
The fabric used for dress covers is of a high-quality weave. The stitching and fit of covers is impeccable. The airline even sewed in a logo label, for a nice branding touch.
In the past, I’ve been critical of these, because passengers love to pick at things. It will no doubt lead to dress cover damage and earlier replacement. Still, that Finnair chose to do it means that the airline is committed to ongoing maintenance.
Using light neutral tones and white structures throughout the cabin sends the same message of a commitment to maintenance and hygiene.
To complement this, there is the colourful Marimekko used in food service and amenities, which incorporates Finnish arts and crafts tradition.
There is a very clever introduction of Finland’s lush green nature with a calm forest image in a galley screen, which I found was an attractive detail. It helps the cabin feel fresh, quieting the disturbing visual noise of galley equipment. It’s really a very simple thing, but Finnair took the time to consider it, which speaks volumes about everything else.
There is ample room for luggage with the A350’s roomy bins.
The in-flight technology with Panasonic IFE, and Wi-Fi connectivity is the final touch ensuring passengers in all cabins can enjoy the journey as they like: relaxing, being entertained, or productive. The user interface on the IFE was simple and responsive, and I found Wi-Fi worked well, similar in performance to a 3G mobile connection on the ground, once you got on the server.
There were a couple of hiccups signing up, but I think that was an issue of the server coming online at the beginning of the flight and my rushing to log-in. Once log-in was resolved, I was able to share both images and video from the sky on social media–which, to be honest, blows my GenX mind.
The Finnair A350 is clean and modern.
We talk about modernity in design, but modernism dates back to the early 20th century: and that’s what’s good about it.
Modernity is timeless, enduring, eternal. Modern is forward-facing optimism, not backward-looking melancholy.
It reflects aviation’s true nature, and technological prowess. Modernity looks up at the skies and takes off to new horizons. Finnair brings that modernism where it’s most at home: in the clouds.
Through images and sensations, Finnair declares, “We are the future.”
With the launch of this new A350, it is easy to believe them.