Rail beauty

March 13, 2019

Kaelis design lead Manoj Pridhanani has called on rail operators to aim higher and bring a touch of beauty to the journey. Julie Baxter discovers how

Travel can be tiring but it is also a chance to stop, think, reflect and enjoy life, and design can support that experience says Kaelis design lead Manoj Pridhanani.

“Beauty may be subjective but it is not just in the eye of the beholder, it is in all the senses and if you can give passengers many moments that emotionally touch their senses you can transform the journey from a chore to a pleasure. With advanced technology and fantastic engineering and craftsmanship, we can actually get rid of this ‘tiring’ tag and replace it with ‘beautiful,” he says.

From inspiration to function
Pridhanani highlights seven steps to creating beautiful journeys from inspiration and brainstorming to concept clarity, objective setting, and a functionality focus. His team focuses on colour to set the tone and support the operator’s brand, and form to ensure product functionality. They add texture to enhance the moments of interaction and test a product in its proposed environment to confirm practicality and emotional response. It’s a process his team applied in developing a new service concept for First and Business travellers on Renfe.

He says: “We use design as the medium to revive the senses and thus improve the travel experience. People do now appreciate good design and through design we have a powerful mechanism at our disposal which, when used correctly, helps us achieve onboard goals whatever they are.”

Future opportunities
Looking to the future, Pridhanani believes growth in new materials, including ecologically-sound options, will dramatically expand opportunities. He says: “We live in a time when the word ‘impossible’ is about to become extinct when it comes to textures and materials. Rail operators are beginning to see they can enhance their product through simple design touches, whatever the budget.

“These days there is little time to stop, and think: ‘wow that is so beautiful’ but in retrospect it is these wow moments when we see beauty that are the moments we go on to remember much longer.”

As growing numbers of rail operators invest significantly in high-speed trains and new rolling stock, the passenger expectation for onboard enhancements is rising too. Clearly there are exciting times ahead.