Addy Ng is SPIRIANT’s go-to guy when it comes to keeping their amenity kits on trend and looking fabulous. We chat to him about the future of amenity kit design and why after all these years he’s still excited about getting his hands on new designs.
How do you go about designing an amenity kit?
Well, of course the first thing is always to understand what the customer needs. Once we know the brief and what is required, we start to do our research and find out more about the branding of the airline.
When we’re designing an amenity kit in collaboration with a luxury, lifestyle or cosmetic brand, we also need to focus on the image of our brand partners so that the design of the product represents both parties.
Once we have all the ideas in place, the exciting part starts. We begin sourcing the right fabrics and accessories, setting the color scheme and going on to find the perfect silhouettes of the kits. There is a lot of sketching, mixing and matching of fabrics, and then revising and editing. This process can take some time until we find the best match to create the most appealing designs for our customers.
How important is the client’s brief?
It’s extremely important! This is the only way we can find out what’s required and expected from our customers. I’m often very involved at the early stages of the process so we can get as much information as possible to create designs. We need to know what the client wants whilst still giving them an innovative edge.
Of course, there are customers who would like to be surprised and this is why we keep coming up with new designs and ideas. We often organize regular design workshops to develop new amenity kits with them. This can be an exciting endeavor because bringing in our SPIRIANT design team alongside our airline customers and brand partners means we all get a say in the creative process.
What are the challenges? Does budget dictate the design?
Well of course, one of the main challenges is definitely the budget. But this is also what I find very exciting as a designer. When we have an unlimited budget, we can quite easily create extraordinary designs using exquisite materials with access to the most state of the art technology.
But for me, it’s so much more satisfying to create a beautiful product with a limited budget! There is so much we can do, from the combination of colors to a small detail of a pleating, which can elevate the ordinary to something beautiful and precious. In this sense, the budget challenge becomes an inspiration.
Do you find similarities in the designs that are picked by buyers?
I think generally buyers tend to go for designs which are more practical as this is what frequent flyers usually ask for. But saying that, different customers have very different tastes. Now that I’ve been in the industry a while, I understand them better and always adapt to their different needs.
Also with the trend of having more rotations of designs onboard, we see more varied designs being offered to passengers, especially those who are flying a few times a year. Buyers can also take more risk in choosing something which they otherwise would not choose if each design only lasts a few months.
So the worry is over! Even if some more “avant-garde” designs are not that appreciated by their passengers, they can get a more “classic” design in a few months’ time.
What do you see as the future of amenity design?
As I mentioned before, the future of amenity design will be “variety”. When I first joined the industry, I saw that a lot of amenity kits looked practically the same. The only difference was the logo on them. I set out to change this and from my very first design. I made sure that all my amenity kits can be distinguished from one to another with their designs, details, proportions, colors, and materials.
Our customers and their passengers are getting more informed and trend conscious, it is important for designers to work hard and come up with a great variety of designs. “Creativity and innovation” will be the future of amenity designs, we should constantly reinvent the idea of what an amenity kit should be.
What do you feel should be included, that isn’t at the moment?
With all our smartphones and tablets, I think one item which can be extremely useful is the cable to charge these gadgets. This might be bit of a personal request too – it’s always the one thing I forget quite often!
Who are your fashion inspirations?
I am very much inspired by fashion when I design amenity kits. I used to work in the fashion industry and am still in regular contact with friends and colleagues.
There are a few designers I find particularly interesting and inspiring at the moment. I love Raf Simons and Nicolas Ghesquière for their intellectual approach to fashion, Pier Paolo Piccoli and Haider Ackermann’s sense of color and on how they translate nostalgic designs into modern silhouettes.
But my all-time favorite designer has to be Dries Van Noten. His universe is very close to mine and I love the richness of designs full of subtle details. It is never too much or too little. Season after season, I’m amazed by his ability to come up with new designs which are consistently his.
Do you believe that most of the designs in the market are too masculine?
It’s true most of the amenity kit designs are more structural and simple in shape and can be viewed as more masculine. Saying that, I believe that with the increase in the rotation of designs for a lot of the airlines, there is room to include more styles and therefore some designs which are considered more feminine.
I know that a lot of passengers are taking their amenity kit and giving them to their family members and friends. More varied style options will make them remember the airline and create a lasting loyalty.
How would you describe yourself as a designer?
I would consider myself a designer who is very curious. I always look for what is new, what is interesting and what hasn’t been done before.
I believe that a designer should find balance between his/her artistic side and the commercial side and it is only with this in mind, we can create good designs which are a combination of beauty and function.
Even after all these years, whenever I see a new sample of my design I have this excitement in me. I can’t wait to get my hands on it because I’m very enthusiastic and passionate about what I do.