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Aviation In the press
Air China: Brand Storytelling
This article, originally published in Skift magazine, explores how JPA used brand storytelling to inspire the new interiors and lounge designs for Air China.
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This article, originally published in Skift magazine, explores how JPA used brand storytelling to inspire the new interiors and lounge designs for Air China.

We like brand continuity, rather than a disrupted mish-mosh of a design experience. This level of thematic storytelling shows confidence in the core-design strategy on the part of Air China, and a clear sense of corporate identity.

Air China has revealed the design of its new 747-8i interiors in a special ceremony in Beijing, providing a seamless terminal to air experience, focused on brand storytelling.

The design language evolved from a collaboration between JPA Design and renowned Chinese artist Mr. Han Meilin. The Air China interiors will feature Han’s unique artwork–phoenix in flight and cloud, and enhanced by earthen tile patterns.

These symbols and earth and sky, and the unique imagery inspired by Han’s artistic vision, pay homage to the airline’s cultural heritage.

JPADesign has carried this interior design philosophy for Air China through to the airline’s premium lounges, ensuring a harmonized and seamless brand experience; from pre-boarding to in-flight.

James Park, founder and principal of JPA Design said of the project:

“With our design approach, JPA sets out to ensure that each element of the travel experience is considered, whether onboard or at the airport, so that passengers enjoy every part of their journey.”

The seamless earth to sky design is key to the airline’s dream-like brand storytelling. A story which JPADesign describes as: “one where the passenger is carried on the wings of the phoenix flying high in the sky and with a sense of being surrounded by clouds with “the earth at your feet.”

For further brand continuity, the aircraft interiors and terminal lounge design features are complemented by bespoke soft-goods fitting the airline’s new unique design palette. JPA Design created new pillows, blankets, duvets, pyjamas, slippers, eyeshades and toiletry bags which will all be introduced with this new program.

JPA Design’s Managing Director, Ben Orson, shared insights on future cabin designs and how airlines can create the ideal cabin experience with attendees at the Skift Forum in the New York Times Center.

As Orson explains, the inspiration for harmonizing the in-cabin and in-lounge experience for Air China came from the airlines’ desire to ensure continuity of its brand story for passengers throughout the journey.

“Establishing a central narrative that draws together the different expressions of that brand is central to ensuring that the customers’ experience is rewarding and memorable,” Orson said. “With this project, however, we have created a series of subtle variations on the central themes that reflect the geographical distribution of the products. The aircraft tell a story and in addition, the lounges also respond to their locations for a more authentic engagement between the spaces and the customers.”

These new designs will also be incorporated on Air China’s new fleet of B787-900s; which Air China will first take delivery of in 2016.

When asked whether Air China’s seamless and harmonized brand storytelling will inspire other carriers, Orson told us:

“Especially for frequent flyers, we believe that products have to sustain the interest of their users. As such, whilst the initial impression still needs to be strong, the ability to keep discovering elements of the story over multiple engagements will keep the experience fresh and promote loyalty.”

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