APEX Media: The “Crystal Cabin Award Winners: Where Are They Now?” series provides updates on past CCA-winning concepts. The 2018 Crystal Cabin Award application deadline is November 3.
The Butterfly concept, developed by Hong Kong-based Paperclip Design, in partnership with Airbus, gives airlines the flexibility to adjust cabin configuration based on real-time demand for each flight. The seating solution, which allows instant transformation between premium economy seats and business-class flatbed suites, won the Crystal Cabin Award in the Premium Class & VIP category in 2014. The project was then selected to participate in a 6-month acceleration program at Airbus BizLab, after which Paperclip Design entered into a business partnership with Airbus, through the “start-up 2 partner” framework, in 2016, to bring flexible seating to market.
“The Crystal Cabin Award really helped us get our name out in the industry. For small start-ups it is especially crucial.” – James Lee, Paperclip Design
The submission phase for the 2018 Crystal Cabin Award, which recognizes the most significant innovations in aircraft interiors, onboard technology, passenger comfort, efficiency, safety and design, is currently active. Candidates may enter by filling out an application form by November 3. The awards now include seven categories, including a new Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity category. Crystal Cabin Award winners will be announced at a ceremony held during Aircraft Interiors Expo, taking place from April 10 to 12 in Hamburg.
James Lee, director, Paperclip Design, gives APEX Media an update on the Butterfly concept.
Can you provide a description of the winning concept?
Butterfly is a flexible seating solution that allows instant transformation between premium economy seats and business-class flatbed suites. It gives airlines the flexibility to adjust cabin configuration based on real-time demand for each flight, allowing them to make the most efficient use of precious cabin space.
What makes this concept unique?
Airlines have long benefited from the flexibility of convertible seating on short-haul flights. Butterfly is the first concept to extend this flexibility to long-haul flights, where flatbeds are imperative. It also lets airlines utilize their fleet more efficiently by switching between short day flights and long overnight flights with the same aircraft.
How does the concept improve the airline passenger experience?
Butterfly gives passengers more ways to customize their own space. In business class, the side couch is useful as a guest seat, an ottoman, or for spreading things around. Families will appreciate the couches that let kids sleep comfortably, and couples in premium economy may even lie flat, together.
How has the concept developed since winning a Crystal Cabin Award?
The project was selected for the first season of the Airbus BizLab, an accelerator set up by Airbus for aerospace-related startups. After a successful 6-month acceleration program, we entered into a business partnership with Airbus, through the “start-up 2 partner” framework, in 2016. Together, we intend to further mature the concept and bring flexible seating into the market. Today, we are in the process of forming an industrial set up necessary to develop, certify and manufacture the Butterfly seat, and are in exchanges with airlines and manufacturers.
How has the Crystal Cabin Award contributed to the development of this concept?
Crystal Cabin Award is well-regarded and highly visible in the industry. It really helped us get the name out, which is particularly crucial for us as we are a small new entrant. For potential collaborators, it serves as a mark of confidence.
Have you since, or would you still like to enter any other projects for a CCA?
We have yet to enter any new concepts for a CCA as we are already too busy with the existing ones! But we do have other projects in the pipeline that we’d like to enter soon.