Image via TU Delft

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 HeadRest concept was developed by Delft University of Technology student Manon Kühne, in cooperation with Zodiac Seats US, with the goal of providing passengers with head support, privacy and control, which are all important contributors to perceived comfort. According to Kühne, several airlines have shown interest since the hammock-like HeadRest won the Crystal Cabin Award University category in 2016, and the prototype was sent to them for review. 

“TU Delft has received a lot of attention through this HeadRest. Several airlines cooperate with us, [partly] because we can show the Crystal Cabin Award.” – Dr. Peter Vink, Professor of Environmental Ergonomics IDE TU Delft

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.


Image via TU Delft

Delft University of Technology student Manon Kühne gives APEX Media an update on her HeadRest concept:

Can you provide a description of  the winning concept?

The HeadRest offers a subtle way to retreat within the space of your economy seat during long-haul flights. Unfolding the side wings of the HeadRest reveals a hammock construction that cradles your head as you lean sideways, preventing sliding and nodding, while offering subtle privacy at eye level.

What makes this concept unique?

The HeadRest is designed to enable retrofitting to existing Zodiac seats, enabling airlines to upgrade their current fleet in terms of passenger comfort, through a relatively small intervention. The HeadRest caters to support, privacy and control aspects all at once, which are proved to be important factors for experiencing comfort.

How does the concept improve the airline passenger experience?

The hammock is designed to cradle the side of the head, following the contour of the head and cheek to prevent the head from slipping while sleeping. Additionally, the HeadRest offers privacy at eye level with the subtle act of adjusting the side wings while sleeping or relaxing.

How has the concept developed since winning a Crystal Cabin Award?

Several airlines have shown interest in the HeadRest and the prototype was sent to them for review, both through TU Delft and Zodiac Aersospace contacts. So far the feasibility of the design is still being researched and Zodiac Seats US has recently decided to file an extension for the Chinese market.

How has the Crystal Cabin Award contributed to the development of this concept?

Apart from the airlines that showed interest in the prototype, I have received several requests for interviews and features (Wired, TU Delft, ARD). The HeadRest was part of the Mind the Step exposition at Dutch Design Week. Furthermore, I was a speaker at the ‘Comfort Talks’, a mini symposium on passenger comfort, where several industry representatives were present.

Have you since, or would you still like to enter any other projects for a CCA?

I am currently working as a human factors consultant at vhp human performance, a design and consultancy agency for complex working environments. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and the security sector working at the airport are among our clients. If we ever develop a cabin-related product, I would definitely consider applying again as it was a great experience.