Qantas designer David Caon's concept business class seat

By David Flynn, March 15 2017
Qantas designer David Caon's concept business class seat

Aussie designer David Caon has made his mark on Qantas with the Airbus A380 – working alongside Marc Newson on the superjumbo's interiors – as well as the airline's Singapore and Hong Kong lounges, and is now taking the lead on the airline's Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Caon's already shaped the business class suites (shown above), premium economy and economy seats, along with 'soft product' accessories such as blankets and pillows, and is now diving into less tangible aspects such as the cabin's LED lighting scheme.

But two years before Qantas inked its order for the first tranche of red-tailed Dreamliners, Caon had already worked on a design involving the Thompson Vantage XL seat (below) on which the Qantas Boeing 787 and Airbus A330 Business Suite is based.

Caon's 2013 design study – called CS01, and shown below – was "an exploratory project, loosely based on the Thompson XL staggered format," Caon tells Australian Business Traveller, and produced for a special design issue of AIM magazine.

The result is immediately familiar to most Qantas business class travellers – and the frequent flyers of other airlines which have adopted the Vantage XL, among them Scandinavia's SAS (below).

"When I saw that seat, I was curious about how we would interpret the fundamentals of that (staggered) layout," Caon recalls.

"For us it was mainly an exercise in forms and details. I was also keen to explore how stowages and lights could work outside of the constraints of a particular project."

"I was most excited about the blade thin edge-capping detail and fully-formed internal lining of the back shell."

(Yes, this is the sort of stuff which gets industrial designers all juiced up).

"The lining particularly was influenced by some of my favourite works in Italian design from the 1960s and is intended to look like a membrane stretched over forms, which create stowages."

Caon and his team also experimented with a large variety of colours and materials, from subdued charcoal-greys...

... to dusky burgundy and a deep Cathay-esque sea-green.

There are also some carry-overs from CS01 to Caon's premium economy seat for the Qantas Boeing 787, from splashes of colour to the rub-strip at the side of the seat.

"This project was the first time I experimented with an alloy rub-strip detail and this indeed has made it onto our premium economy seat design for Qantas, albeit slightly revised," Caon says.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.