From Gulfstream, Bombardier Global, and Dassault Falcon business jets, to Airbus ACJ319 and ACJ320neo and on to Boeing 737 and 747 based BBJ aircraft, Yves Pickardt has designed more than 30 interiors, some of which have won awards, such as the Acropolis Airbus ACJ320neo, recently recognized as “Best of the Best 2021” by the prestigious Robb Report magazine in New York.
Yves Pickardt answers Elite Wings Questions
What are the unique challenges in designing VVIP aircraft interiors compared to “Land” projects?
Obviously, the main constraints are ergonomics, due to the limited space, as well as weight and safety. Also, there is no catalogue of furniture that exists prior to the project, unlike in a house or an apartment or a hotel.
In an airplane, we design absolutely everything, from chairs to tables to closets, and even minor pieces such as latches and switches. These items are subject to engineering studies, prototypes, and safety tests as thoroughly as if they were mass-produced industrially. Although, we will have no more than ten pieces or so of each custom-designed piece of furniture on board, and most of them in a single copy. This is the major issue!
Then, should it be a single-aisle aircraft, we ought to find a theme that would be the same throughout the cabin without generating boredom or an effect of exaggerated repetition.
For wide-bodies aircraft, there is more freedom, even if we always prefer to start with a common theme and to vary the theme according to the different parts of the aircraft.
We push the customization of our projects to the point of having fabrics and carpets specially woven. The same goes for leather, which we often have custom tanned and dyed.
Of course, we are very much concerned by all the technical advances that allow us to apply to aeronautical projects as much ecological consideration as for all other industrial sectors. Of course, the search for eco-friendly, recyclable, and environmentally friendly materials is omnipresent in our work.
But while doing so, we always try to privilege natural materials rather than artificial ones such as faux wood films or recon leathers, or composite metals.
Finally, we always think about the resale of the aircraft, this commercial aspect almost always guides the client and us towards elegant and refined but not overly fancy solutions. Sci-fi decors do not sell well! Better yet, several aircraft have seen a strong increase in value thanks to our design.
With a very wide international customer list ranging from private industry tycoons to heads of State and governments. How are you able to capture different design requirements with such a wide range of culture values and design elements perception?
Among heads of state, billionaires from all continents, and young tycoons; the most demanding clients are not necessarily the ones you might think!
Some participate in all phases of the project, giving precise instructions; others give you carte blanche and attend only one or two meetings. There are no rules! But whoever he or she is, we serve them all with the same maximum degree of attention.
We meet the client and instantly we have to understand who they are, how they live, and what their tastes are. Or sometimes we don’t even meet him or her personally.
I would say that the essential motivation for a designer’s profession is curiosity. Travelling contributes enormously to quenching this curiosity. But we are also fed with historical culture, and we are constantly listening to new trends, new technological advances, and all the artistic, political, and sociological events that can influence our work. We sense the times and stay ahead of the trends.
Each project is the object of intense preliminary reflections.
And when comes the moment of creation, we forget everything we have seen and accumulated before and we project ourselves on a blank page.
Then the ideas spring up as if by magic. With the help of designers, they take the form of perspectives or virtual animations and detailed plans.
We select all the materials, furniture, and accessories that make up these interiors. Items often numbering several hundred.
To do this, we have had to store countless amounts of information over many years while honing the accuracy and finesse of our professional eye.
we are also skilled technicians capable of solving many technical problems.
We know how to train a team, unite them and make them do their best.
In 2020 you led the design of the first-ever ACJ320neo for Acropolis Aviation. How is designing a Bizliner for the VVIP charter market differ from the ones designed for private usage?
The vast majority of corporate jets and even government planes are composed of a bedroom, a bathroom, and possibly a meeting space that serves as a dining room.
The rest of the cabin is equipped with business or first cocoon-type seats.
With Acropolis ACJ320neo, we have a completely different charter aircraft. It has been designed as a full-fledged private aircraft except that it is available for rent.
We find a large bedroom with a king-size bed accessible from two sides. A bedroom equipped with a vanity writing table and plenty of storage space. It is adjoined by a large bathroom equipped with a rectangular shower double the size of the norm. The rest of the cabin consists of two large lounges, a seated coffee corner, a dining room for eight passengers, a large galley with double circulation, a dedicated seat for one crew member, a rest section for two crew members, and a very spacious lobby.
This aircraft is considered by the market and the industry as the most comfortable, beautiful, and luxurious charter jet in the world.
It is the direct and faithful descendant of an Airbus ACJ319 that I had previously designed for the same operator.
The input and confidence of the owners were decisive in bringing these two projects to absolute excellence.