40 Success Stories: When Factorydesign Overhauled BA’s Concorde Cabin

The armrest on British Airways’ Concorde aircraft was designed to incorporate the airline’s ribbon logo. Image via Factorydesign.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of APEX EXPO this year, APEX Media is looking back at its members’ most significant achievements. Today, we find out how Factorydesign gave British Airways’ Concorde passengers an experience to remember during the aircraft’s last two years of flight.

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In September 1998, when Factorydesign was just one year old and employed only five people, it was tasked with overhauling the entire customer experience associated with British Airways’ Concorde flights.

The initial creative process lasted six months and resulted in some innovative new elements being introduced to the cabin. “When you pored over the plans of the aircraft, there wasn’t a spare inch available to add to the tiny toilet modules,” recounted Adam White, director of Factorydesign. “However, on the cabin walk-through, it was clear a piece of ‘flying freehold’ could be extended out over a storage box. This added fifteen percent more width to the bathroom, which we used for amenities that had previously crowded the space.”

The re-vamped lavatory on British Airways' Concorde aircraft. Image via Factorydesign

The re-vamped lavatory on British Airways’ Concorde aircraft. Image via Factorydesign

Other unique features of Factorydesign’s Concorde cabin included an armrest that would automatically swivel ninety degrees as it was moved from its downward position, where it was three inches wide, to a blade of under an inch that slipped between the seats when stowed. The armrest also featured the then-new British Airways ribbon logo, unveiled in 1997, in the structure of the seat. “They told us they wanted to “own” Concorde, but not in an obvious way,” White explained.

By mid 2000, most elements of the new cabin were complete, from the seating to the galleys, lavatories and new lighting, but the tragic Air France accident in July of that year led to all Concorde aircraft being grounded until November 2001. During this time, the fuel tanks of all Concordes had to be lined with Kevlar trays for additional protection, but with Facctorydesign’s new, lighter interior, British Airways was able to offset the weight of the fuel tank reinforcement.

British Airways retired Concorde, which featured Factorydesign’s redesign, in October 2003.

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