The Future Of Flying: Personal Cocoon Seats?

The post-COVID design space has been bursting with ideas around how to make the aircraft cabin more private. While there’s a new impetus for creating these types of concepts right now, it’s something designers have been eyeing for many years. We take a look at an almost decade-old design that has oodles of potential in the modern environment.

Contour AirLair Factorydesign
The airLair uses vertical space to create a personal pod for premium passengers. Photo: Factorydesign

Private, personal space

Who would accept paying a high price for a hotel, only to find they have to sleep with strangers in their room? Despite the excellent in-room entertainment, smiling staff, and free wine, the encroaching presence of other people would completely ruin the experience.

It was this train of thought that brought the airLair into being. Developed by London design house Factorydesign, the clue to this concept is right there in the name. A personal lair, or maybe a den, in the air that is yours and yours alone.

Contour AirLair Factorydesign
A cocoon in the sky for the ultimate level of privacy. Photo: Factorydesign

The airLair explores the potential to build up in the aircraft cabin. It’s a concept that has been somewhat explored in the past, but never with quite as much finesse as this concept. The designers say that by stacking the arrangement of seats in this way, the number of premium fliers could be doubled in a typical 1-2-1 business or first cabin.

Contour AirLair Factorydesign
Stacking seating in this way would allow airlines to double the capacity of the business class cabin. Photo: Factorydesign

Each pod would offer a comfortable seat that slides to convert into a 73” lie flat bed. Overhead stowage would be replaced with monument or bulkhead baggage storage, allowing widebody aircraft to use the full height to create spacious personal pods. Even with a 1-2-1 arrangement of pods, the aisles on the aircraft would be some of the widest in the sky, making for a great experience for cabin crew too.

Contour AirLair Factorydesign
Seats slide down into a 73″ flat bed. Photo: Factorydesign

The design house even thought about the fun features of these cabins. Inside, passengers would be treated to a flip-down transparent screen for entertainment, lit by a 3D projector. The project would even shine a menu onto the open table for the guest. At night, the integrated night sky feature and surround sound noise cancellation is sure to provide a restful experience for the passengers.

Contour AirLair Factorydesign
IFE is delivered via a transparent screen using a projector. Photo: Factorydesign

An old design with new potential

While the airLair looks ultra-modern, it’s not as new as it might appear. Factorydesign came up with the concept back in 2011, specifically as a show-stopper for the Aircraft Interiors Show in Hamburg. Seat manufacturer Contour (now Safran) had challenged the design agency to develop something provocative for the show to draw passersby to the stand.

Contour AirLair Factorydesign
Could the personal pods see renewed interest in today’s market? Photo: Factorydesign

We can imagine that it filled that brief very well, but does the concept have new applications in the modern world, almost a decade later? Since COVID, we’ve seen numerous out of the box ideas for aircraft seating, as designers flex their creativity in a bid to restore passenger confidence. In this era, where personal space and separation are seen as a benefit, perhaps Factorydesign would do well to revisit the concept?

The design house advised Simple Flying that this was never an idea that was actively marketed to airlines. It was specifically designed to raise eyebrows at the show, and has not been taken beyond this concept and mock-up phase. But with a new impetus from passengers and advances in materials, it is a design that retains plenty of potential in the modern age.

 What do you think? Would you fly in a lair in the sky? Let us know what you think of the concept in the comments.