Color in Aviation
We were able to have a lovely sit-down chat with the Creative designer, Paul Wylde who shared with us his insightful thoughts and perspective on color in Aviation. Tapis and Ultrafabrics have a long history of working with Paul to help bring airline brands to life through interior design and materiality.

Color is often an underutilized asset in an airline’s toolkit. This asset can make an impact with passengers, which is becoming much harder to do in an ultra-competitive environment. Oftentimes, color’s impact is subtle, like the use of accents to help create a narrative that is compelling and enduring. Sometimes color’s impact can be more daring, which can create a sense of dynamism in an aircraft interior. Depending on its usage, color can be one of the best ways to bring an airline’s brand to life and act as the introduction to a distinguishable brand story. There is an opportunity within aviation to also use color as an important binding piece, which holds interior design elements together. Whether it’s the safety and security of blue or the natural feeling of green, color represents a way that airlines can stand apart and truly enhance the customer experience.

Making an impact
There are a few ways an airline can quickly make a big impact on passengers. This could come in the form of superior service or an outstanding visual aesthetic. Color is an exceptional way to have an immediate impact. It acts as a signal which could either be subtle or dramatic and is an opportunity to begin to tell a story about the passenger experience. Architectural elements could also be used for similar purposes, and these would need to be supported with the right color to ensure the story is clear and compelling. Color is immediate. It's quickly noticed and instantaneously conveys a feeling.

“Color is immediate. It's quickly noticed and instantaneously conveys a feeling.”

We can think of an aircraft interior as a blank canvas. There is an opportunity to use this canvas to define the overall passenger experience, so all the pieces must work together harmoniously while considering the needs and goals of the airline. The choice of an interior color is led by three factors:

  1. Longevity: A typical interior design program should last 6-7 years or up to a decade. It’s important to choose colors that won’t date quickly.

  2. Foundation: Airlines must ask themselves if the chosen color can act as a platform for other products that will be added later. The integration of elements must be driven by the color and the desired customer experience strategy.

  3. Brand: An airline’s brand color helps communicate the promise they are making to customers, the experience that tells their unique story and the identity that defines their most memorable characteristics. 

 Seating material and carpets are an excellent opportunity for experimentation with color. These elements quickly deliver an impression. And oftentimes, an airline only has seconds to make an impression, so an important question to raise is what do you want that impression to be? Because passengers are in a restricted space for a period of time, the impact of the decor can be considered a “macro experience”. But there are also “micro” impressions that can be made which can surprise and delight a passenger at key moments during the travel experience. These opportunities often start with an “emotional splash” by using more vibrant or courageous colors in key places. One example is a “conceal and reveal” scenario, which might be a drop-down table. These opportunities enable an airline to add a bit of “flash” or fun” to the passenger experience in a tasteful way.
Brand translation
One of the main reasons to be thoughtful about color in aviation is to differentiate. Color should create an immediate and positive impact, signaling the uniqueness of the airline. It’s also important to understand that color application isn’t necessarily a straight translation into a space directly from the brand guidelines. It’s easy to just make use of the brand color palette in this way, but it’s important to understand how the color translates to three dimensional applications. It’s also important to complement the brand color palette with additional accents which become more experiential through controlled and thoughtful applications.

 “Color should help create an immediate positive impact, signaling the uniqueness of the airline”

We can think about the brand color palette as the roadmap to the feeling you want to convey. For example, Allegiant Air uses blue, brown, and yellow to convey a sense of joy. Virgin uses red to convey a sense of romance or the glamour of travel. When you combine these feelings with texture, trim and finish, the brand personality comes to life. This can be critically important for an airline that is looking to capture a passenger’s imagination or change negative perceptions from “stuffy or dated” to “contemporary and stylish.” Color is an important part of the narrative that ultimately rounds out the brand’s story and its business goals.
Color ties it all together
Each airline has an opportunity with color to help contemporize their experience. Cultural trends can be taken into consideration, along with an interest in passenger well-being, service style, comfort, privacy, menu, and lighting. Color’s big opportunity is to ensure all the visual elements within the aircraft are in harmony. When done correctly, this can have an incredible effect on emotion, mood and even your ability to differentiate your experience. Color is an idea that can bring disparate parts of an experience together, and in this way, color is an unsung hero.  

“Putting in a little extra thought about the use of color in your on-board experience can only result in a deeper, more effective, and more differentiated customer relationship.”

It's important to understand that your color choices can be delicate or subtle to accomplish this, and don’t necessarily have to be too “big or dramatic” to have a positive impact. Most airlines leverage blue to create a feeling of safety, security, calm, order, strength, trust, and precision. Your cabin interior represents the most important element of the guest experience and is the conduit to an intimate connection with your passengers.  This stretches across cultures, ages, and flyer types. If your goal is to place the customer at the center of your experience, and you’re committed to fulfill your promise to them, you have no other choice but to use complementary colors that will help fulfill the brand promise and link all aspects of the experience together.


Tapis and Ultrafabrics have had a strategic partnership for more than 30 years. Ultrafabrics is the mill, and builds the product and Tapis is a Leading Aviation Interior Solution provider. Our work together fuses creativity, instinct, imagination, rationality, and innovation. We often call it a creative approach to problem solving; always with the goal of maximizing passenger comfort, durability, weight savings and sustainability.

Paul Wylde is the Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of paulwylde LLC - an award-winning boutique brand, innovation, design, and communications consultancy that has worked extensively with airlines. His clients include Beond, Bermudair, Copa Airlines, Amtrak, HondaJet, JSX, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Hawaiian Airlines, Air Canada, Hilton Worldwide, and Alaska Airlines.

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