Airport Seating: Where Modern Ideas and Classic Design Converge


Eames Tandem Sling seat at Chicago O'Hare Airport

Much like seats onboard the aircraft, passenger seating in airports represents a huge investment and has an irrefutable influence over passenger satisfaction ratings. If you have ever been forced to spend a long stretch of time in an airport terminal, you will know just what we mean.

Not only is airport seating a place to rest one’s weary posterior, it also serves as a significant decorative and architectural feature. Terminal buildings are minimalistic by necessity, so seating is always a dominant element of overall appearance and atmosphere. Now, as airports around the globe strive to differentiate and increase revenues by attracting more flights and travelers, every single passenger touch-point is coming under review.

Something Old

Q: What do Chicago O’Hare, Denver International, Washington Dulles and dozens of other North American airports all have in common?

A: The Eames Tandem Sling seat provided by Herman Miller, a recognized innovator in contemporary interior furnishings.

Developed in collaboration with the Eames Office, Chicago-based architectural firm C.F. Murphy Associates (1890-1985) and the special products division at Herman Miller in the late 1950s, the Eames Tandem Sling went into production in 1962. Its first installations were Chicago O’Hare and Washington Dulles.


The seat has not changed one bit in more than 50 years and is still admired as much for its attractiveness, durability and comfort today as ever before. In fact, the seat performs so well that the Herman Miller product catalogue features no other tandem seat.

“The Eames Tandem modular construction allows for flexibility, exceptional comfort, timeless style and relentless toughness,” says Brian Langerak, product manager at Herman Miller. “Most installations remain for decades after their debut in an airport because customers value its superior construction and ease of maintenance. Customers can quickly and simply change out pads on the fly to immediately maintain Tandem’s performance and stunning visuals.”

In Europe and the Middle East, the Eames Tandem Sling can be acquired through Vitra.

Something Borrowed

Helsinki’s GoSleep pods

Following a successful trial run in 2013, Finland’s Helsinki Airport recently became Europe’s first airport to provide weary travelers with the opportunity to rent time in a quiet and comfortable sleeping pod.

Already considered one of the world’s best airports to catch a few winks in, mid-February saw the introduction of 19 GoSleep pods at two of Helsinki International’s boarding gates. The stylish pods are the creation of a Finnish design company called Short Rest Solutions Ltd. Inside, an ergonomic seat can be turned into a bed with space below for luggage. A pull-down cover eliminates light and noise, and a power-supply charges most devices.

An hour of borrowed respite in one of Helsinki’s GoSleep pods will set you back ‚¬9 (US $9.50).

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