Microclimate Controls, Trend Forecasts & More From Aircraft Textile Specialists

Image: Maxim Sergienko

Last week’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg saw major announcements from airframers, seating manufacturers and in-flight entertainment and connectivity vendors. But amid all the bustle, cabin textile suppliers claimed a few wins of their own.

We are living in a constant dichotomy, split between being plugged in and online or switched off and tuned out, says rohi’s head of Marketing, Isabel Ihle. This juxtaposition between being on and off is the inspiration behind the premium wool manufacturers’ latest yearly design study, as always developed in collaboration with German carpet supplier Anker.

“The design study is a briefing to ourselves. We like to choose difficult, abstract topics – last year it was about translating music into textiles, the year before it was spirits,” Ihle said. “Even if the fabrics aren’t immediately applicable to clients, it’s a good starting point and a way of showing that we can work with complex concepts. After all, translating pop or rock into fabric isn’t so far away from interpreting an airline’s brand identity.”

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Image: Maxim Sergienko

For this year’s study, entitled Create ON/OFF, the German textile specialist decided to organize its interpretation of online and offline states into four pillars: color, dimension, pattern and haptic finishing. These elements together form what Ihle calls a “textile toolbox.”

Create ON/OFF is more than an attempt to impress airlines, Ihle says; the study drives experimentation internally, giving way to new weaving techniques, structures and yarns. This year’s resulting creations display innovations in pattern layering, color-blocking, 3-D optical illusions, and lightweight, yet luxurious homey structures.

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Image: rohi

Meanwhile, over in Hall B6, Lantal displayed the fruits of its trendscouting activities: its 2019 Trendletter study and resulting Conceptual Forecast collection, including options for seat cover fabrics, leathers, carpets, and curtains, to be deployed in all travel classes.

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Lantal’s Genuine Matter line from its 2019 Conceptual Forecast. Image: Maxim Sergienko

This year’s Conceptual Forecast fell into three categories: 1) Genuine Matter, featuring minimal forms and textures, and high-quality materials; 2) Transcendent Reality, showcasing a skillful combination of reality and artificiality, with a focus on glossy, metallic and 3-D finishes; and 3) Fairy Tale, offering soft and organic colors, and playful and floral patterns.

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Lantal’s Transcendent Reality line from its 2019 Conceptual Forecast. Image: Maxim Sergienko

But Lantal’s biggest news of the show was the unveiling of a seat heating and cooling system that would allow passengers to individually adjust their microclimate regardless of the temperature in the cabin. Continuous moisture extraction will assure that regulations for dry seat surfaces are met.

A demo of Lantal’s heating and cooling system. Image: Maxim Sergienko

Selective temperature controls are already available in high-end automobile environments, and with Lantal’s heating and cooling system based on Gentherm thermal management technology commonly used in automotive, passengers in premium economy, first and business class may soon be able to enjoy it as well, says Thomas Steiner, VP Pneumatic Comfort Systems, Lantal.

“Airlines are constantly talking to their seating manufacturers and saying that they’d like new features for their premium guests,” Steiner says. “When they hear about the possibility of heating and cooling, they say, ‘That’s something we’d like to have.’ And since the seating manufacturers themselves don’t have the offering, they have to come to us. To my knowledge, we are the only ones that can deliver this feature.”

A launch customer for Lantal’s heating and cooling system is expected to be announced in Q1 of next year, with the offering to be deployed in the airline’s premium cabins.