Just how close can an Airbus A380 first class suite get to delivering a private jet experience? If these concept images from the development of Singapore Airlines' latest A380 suites are anything to go by, that gap can be quite narrow.
Singapore Airlines tapped feted French designer Jacques Pierrejean to create its second generation of superjumbo suites, and Pierrejean in turn created a series of concepts to convey a luxurious 'five-star feel' of what commercial first class could be like.
Pierrejean made his name designing luxury yachts and interiors for private and commercial aircraft – and he clearly brought those exclusive influences into these first 'inspirational' treatments.
The upper deck of the Airbus A380 was reimagined with a lobby-style entrance and a standing bar for drinks and snacks, gently illuminated by LED lighting and dressed with oriental orchards for a subtle Singaporean touch.
Plush curtains opened to the first class cabin, which in Pierrejean's vision included this elegant private dining room.
These ideas were meant to spark the imagination and challenge conventional notions of first class, which for Singapore Airlines at that time took the form of the small private suites which debuted on the world's first Airbus A380 in October 2007.
As the project progressed, the concepts became more grounded and Pierrejean zeroed in on transforming this space into a room all its own.
"Our concept was the idea of a passenger who stays at a (luxury) hotel, he should find this type of hotel room on the flight... with different functions for day and night," Pierrejean told Executive Traveller when the product launched in November 2017.
"In this way, as per a hotel room, you can live onboard free to rest, to sleep, or to work at any time without be disturbed by the general cabin lighting of the aircraft or your neighbours,” he elaborated.
Pierrejean's work drew closer to what Singapore Airlines eventually unveilled, in what was internally dubbed the 'Skyroom'.
It's not far off from the finished product – although some might suggest Pierrejean's version has a more contemporary styling, and wouldn't look out of place as a first class compartment in a high-speed train as it raced across Europe.
Again, here is Pierrejean's treatment of two first class suites joined together to create a double room with a double bed, followed by the 'double suite' as realised by Singapore Airlines.
The room-like A380 suites were also twice the size of their predecessors, and Pierrejean told Executive Traveller that Singapore Airlines was at first resistant to trimming back the number of suites from a dozen on the first-gen A380s to just six in this redesign.
"We wanted to find a way to increase the space for the passenger (and) that meant that we had to reduce the quantity of suites," Pierrejean recalled. "That was another story, to convince the airline to reduce the capacity for these passengers. But, in the end, they accepted to do that and to do this new concept."
Also read: How the Airbus A350 can embrace first class