March 2011 | Airlines such as Emirates and Singapore Airlines have teamed up with traditional French and Italian luxury brands like Bulgari, Ferragamo and Givenchy to offer passengers quality in-flight amenities, such as toiletry kits, tableware, blankets and pyjamas.
Dutch airline KLM is taking a slightly different approach as it is upgrading its onboard experience. Instead of teaming up with the classical luxury houses, the airline is emphasizing its Dutch origins by partering with contemporary Dutch designers Viktor & Rolf and Marcel Wanders for the creation of its onboard amenities. According to KLM, customers have indicated that they appreciate KLM’s typically Dutch character, so it decided to embrace Dutch Design.
Viktor & Rolf
At the start of the summer schedule on 27 March 2011, KLM has introduced Viktor & Rolf-designed comfort bags for passengers travelling in Business Class on long-haul flights. Different bags are available for men and women, and also contain a Viktor & Rolf branded toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, eye mask, lip balm, pen and ear plugs. A new design will be created each year over the next four-year period, and a new colour will appear every six months. The fashion duo’s bags proves to be popular: A few hours after KLM announced the Viktor & Rolf amenity kits, the first requests for them already started appearing on online marketplaces.
On 27 March 2011, KLM also began serving meals in Business Class on both short- and long-haul flights offered on tableware designed by Marcel Wanders. The designer (of Moooi and Droog Design fame) has created porcelain, glassware, cutlery, linen and a tray for the airline in his signature shapely style. In designing the new service elements, Wanders has taken into account the wishes of its customers, the working procedures of cabin crew, and the weight and space restrictions of air travel (video here).
Democratization of design
KLM’s partnerships with Viktor & Rolf and Marcel Wanders are part of a wider trend, the ‘democratization of design’, in which high-fashion designers team up with more mainstream brands to bring their designs to the general public (as well as lend a sense of exclusivity to the partnering brand). For example, Viktor & Rolf in 2009 launched a collection for H&M, while Marcel Wanders in that same year designed a holiday collection for U.S. retailer Target.
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