RCA partnership with British Airways
As part of its centenary celebrations, British Airways partnered with the Royal College of Art to explore the next 100 years of aviation. Students from across the Schools of Design and Architecture worked collaboratively to imagine how technological and scientific developments will impact future customer experience within global travel, from applications of artificial intelligence to nano technology.
‘Our collaboration with British Airways brought together some of the Royal College of Art’s brightest minds across a range of nationalities and creative disciplines to explore the future of flying. It provided the students with an excellent opportunity to apply design research and innovation thinking to develop imaginative ideas that were inspired by emerging scientific developments but grounded within the realms of real world restrictions and practicalities.’
– Professor Ashley Hall, Professor of Design Innovation, RCA
From their first commercial flight to Paris in August 1919, British Airways has grown to a full service global airline with an extensive network of flights to and from centrally-located airports. To mark its centenary, British Airways commissioned the BA 2119: Flight of the Future Report, which was carried out in collaboration with data-led trends agency Foresight Factory. The report surveyed 13,000 consumers across ten countries and consulted with leading sector experts and futurologists to offer a picture of what flying will look like in 20, 40, 60 and 100 years time.
British Airways came to the RCA to see how the design thinking and expertise of our students could bring to life the research findings of the report. In collaboration with a team of RCA research staff, led by Professor Ashley Hall and Dr Laura Ferarello, British Airways asked the students to explore how future generations will circumnavigate the globe in a world of advanced jet propulsion, hyper personalisation, automation, AI, modular transport, sustainability, health and entertainment.
Over forty MA, MRes and PhD students across Intelligent Mobility, Service Design, Textiles, Fashion, Architecture, Interior Design, Design Products and Innovation Design Engineering took part in the project. They spent three months working in mixed disciplinary teams to develop concepts that built on insights from the BA 2119: Flight of the Future Report. Their thinking was focused on three categories: aircraft, experience and people.
RCA research expertise informed the project throughout, from shaping the initial brief to supporting the development of students’ collaborative projects through tutorials and workshops. Industry mentors, including RCA alumni Dr Tibor Balint, Principal Human Centered Designer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Ian Scoley, Vice President of Safran Cabin Innovation and Design Studio worked closely with the RCA and staff to help the students realise their ideas. The project built on a 2013 collaboration between the School of Design and Airbus with Tobias Mayer, Industrial Design Manager at Airbus.
The students’ collaborative designs were showcased in an exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, London during August 2019. The projects will then travel to Shanghai, where they will exhibit at Art & Design Education: FutureLab, at West Bund Art Centre from 25 November–1 December 2019.
More details of the students’ projects showcased at the Saatchi Gallery can be found here.
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