JPA Design

A teaser photo for JPA’s collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering on an aircraft seat that borrows techniques and technologies from Formula 1 race cars. Image via JPA Design

In It Takes Ten, leaders from 10 of the industry’s top design houses share their thoughts on the creative process, sources of inspiration and the many diverging strategies that guide their work. In this section, JPA Design walks us through its many sources of inspiration.

For Elliott Koehler, creative director at JPA Design, flickers of inspiration come in many forms. The skillfully constructed sci-fi film Blade Runner is one example; the scintillating interiors of ice caves in Hornafjörður, Iceland, are another. “It’s important to not only keep your finger on the pulse of the design industry, but also on other sources of creative inspiration,” he says.

In an ongoing project for a first-class seat slated to launch next year, JPA is guided by the natural world. Annette O’Toole, senior design consultant, Materials, Trend and Brand, at JPA, who worked closely on the project, says, “We are developing an entirely new palette of natural materials, fibers and colors drawn directly from and inspired by nature, and will integrate technology and innovative lighting features to further synergize the space to nature.” O’Toole proceeds to describe a lighting effect that replicates the dapple of sunlight peering through leaves in a forest.

According to Koehler, the lighting concept also draws on the domestic space in a way never before seen in the industry. Novelty is important to Koehler, who believes design firms should regularly reinvent themselves and their craft, enlisting new suppliers and materials in the process. “The future cannot be built in the same way as in the past,” he says.

The sentiment is one inspired by the work of Charles and Ray Eames, the design power couple widely known for their iconic chairs. “Every revolutionary design Charles and Ray produced was driven by human ergonomics, technical manufacturing innovations and unexpected formats. These elements are what drives so much of what we strive for here at JPA – from seats and beds directly shaped and sculpted by how we sleep and live, to a constant challenge to the established ways of doing things.”

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A color, material and finish inspiration board for aircraft cabin projects. Image via JPA Design

In some cases, interdisciplinarity forms the basis of a project, rather than just the creative juice, as is the case for JPA’s collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering on an aircraft seat that borrows techniques and technologies from Formula 1 race cars. Williams brings the intellectual property for methods of integrating unidirectional fibers and creating 3-D structures from 2-D composite preforms; JPA supplies its patented monocoque design; and participating aircraft interior manufacturers will carry out the production. “The combination … will reduce the bill of material count, delivering lower-cost, lightweight and reconfigurable seating structures for aircraft,” Koehler says.

To quote Charles Eames, who was as famous for his aphorisms as his chairs, “[it] works because it’s a chain reaction, each subject leads to the next.”

“It Takes Ten” was originally published in the 10.2 April/May issue of APEX Experience magazine.