Session preview

Infusing style

Nov 1, 2019

The eyes of the world are on Japan. Yuichi Ishihara, from tangerine, and Akira Mitsumasu, from JAL, share their CX collaboration on the EXPO stage at the Onboard Hospitality Forum – Asia.

Exactly one month after Tokyo won its bid to host the 2020 Olympic games, Japan Airlines (JAL) announced it had signed a purchase agreement for 31 A350s, plus options for a further 25 aircraft.

The airline issued an international tender competition to select a design partner and armed with three decades of work with Japanese companies including Nikon, Toyota and Seiko, tangerine won the brief, inheriting with it the challenge of outfitting the wide-body A350s.

“Until now JAL’s brand image has been quite traditional and domestic, but with 2020 they knew they needed to be more international and modern, while still retaining that Japanese feel,” tangerine’s Creative Lead and Head of Japan Business, Yuichi Ishihara, says. After conducting interviews and workshops with executive management, the firm landed on a strategy it calls ‘Infused Essence’.

“We start with a tradition: be it culture, architecture or behaviour and then look at how we can bring a contemporary element that appeals to international travellers,” Ishihara says. “It’s all about playing with double imagery and messaging.”

Soft touches
Emphasis is on the ‘soft side of the customer experience’, he explains with a focus on the intangible elements, and careful consideration of subliminal behaviour and feelings that truly enhance the customer’s experience.

“The mood of the cabin is welcoming and spacious, yet cosy. It is the first and only A350 to feature dark side walls bringing a more intimate feeling to the cabin, contrasted with a pure white ceiling that reflects light into the space.”

The division of the interior space is reminiscent of the divisions of space in Japanese culture, created through suggestions of boundaries rather than physical borders. Texture also plays a significant role in Japanese spatial design, so the rhythm of the cabin interior was created through changing textures.

Ishihara adds: “The exclusive First-Class cabin sets the benchmark for premium domestic travel where the bulkhead wall features a pleated form inspired by origami, which beautifully diffuses the feature lighting. A relationship with nature is a key part of Japanese culture, so our challenge was to bring elements of the natural world into a manufactured environment.”

The strategy has also been retrofitted across JAL’s B777 international fleet.