Intuitive functionality

Whether it is mornings or evenings, light is more than merely brightness; it helps in setting our moods. In fact, light intensity and color temperature work together to help us achieve a sense of well-being. On board of modern airplanes light defines new aesthetics and upgrades the atmosphere in the cabin. Design expert Ben Rowan, Director at PriestmannGoode, discusses how SCHOTT’s lighting technology inspired him and his team to create compact in-seat reading lights with distinct design and intuitive features.

What do you consider as most important when it comes to aviation design?

In general, we are driven by a desire – and a need – to improve the user experience. We believe great design should be simple, elegant, intuitive, easy to maintain and efficient to manufacture. When I am asked to sum up our design philosophy, I would say “Design is about people – from end users to maintenance staff”.

How does this apply to designs such as reading lights? Is there an overall “leitmotiv” that guided the design and the development of SCHOTT’ new reading lights from the designer’s perspective?

As designers of aircraft seating products for many different clients, PriestmanGoode. understands how each airline and each seat design has differing requirements. We saw the unique opportunity to create designs that could adapt to, not hinder, the aesthetic of a seat. We approached this in a balanced way, considering both the business and financial considerations of Schott with the desire of airlines to have their own unique product in a space where choice is currently restrictive.

What is special about these lights from a functional as well form a formal design perspective?

We set ourselves and the Schott engineering team the goal to design a reading light with a mounting depth of no more than 0.5″, without compromising functionality or aesthetics.

Which challenges did you face?

This challenged the team at Schott to be as efficient as possible with the packaging of the components, but also create a unique design solution that matches the high expectations of a Schott lighting product.

Gems are the “godparents” for the new reading series. What do you think makes the new reading light Sapphire a treasure?

Sapphire comes in six shapes – all with a soft touch faceplate. It exudes elegance while integrating mood lighting features. This innovation provides new levels of customization in the standard reading light market.

What’s remarkable about it from a design and functionality point of view?

Defined by a singular form, this simplicity allows the design to provide intuitive functionality for the passenger. With both ambient and direct lighting, and an opportunity to change the look and feel of the product, airlines are able to have a bespoke product unique to their aesthetic requirements.

Ben Rowan is a Director at PriestmanGoode. The international Design Agency is a leader in defining future trends and at the forefront of global design today. Previously he was Creative Head of Aviation. Ben has a Bachelor of Design from Wellington School of Design, New Zealand. He has worked on projects with Itec, Three, Hitachi, Rotary, Airbus A3XX, Malaysia Airlines, Swiss International Airlines, British Telecoms, Air France, United Airlines and Qatar Airways.

Ben Rowan and the PG team that worked on Sapphire: Manon Bourette, Ben Kippax, Lucas Tretout (not pictured)

April 1, 2019


Brigitte Sterf
Lighting and Imaging

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