The Bay System, designed by Poltrona Frau in collaboration with Foster + Partners for the transportation sector, had a journey from inception to launch that was just like its shape: long and windy. It also began development prior to the pandemic and is launching post, the implications of which are even bigger considering the concept of “waiting” has taken on a whole new meaning since.
“When we started development, nobody could foresee the pandemic and the effects it would have on airport travel. At the time, we thought waiting areas would have to be completely re-thought,” said Nicola Coropulis, CEO of Poltrona Frau.
Comprised of just three elements for designers to build on: two types of seats and a power-enabled beam they attach to that can have straight and curved forms, the system is a surprisingly simple one for something that offers such flexibility. After observing the different types of travelers—from families with children to singles, pairs of business colleagues and more—and their behaviors through airports, the design team sought to alleviate the anxiety now induced for most, not to mention the safety needed, when in larger crowds with broader seating capabilities.
“It challenged the whole concept and Bay got more diverse in its approach because of COVID,” said Mike Holland, senior partner and head of industrial design at Foster + Partners, which resulted in the development of two different seating experiences with Bay Gate and Bay Lounge, opening them up to even more market sectors.
“Airport seating is historically linear lines; let’s get as many people as possible into the smallest amount of space,” Holland explained. “The highest densities are near the gates and it’s when you move away from them where you have far more space and opportunity to offer choice,” he explained, so each seating option was named as such.
Gate is linear for those higher density areas, while Lounge offers greater levels of comfort at a lower sit and can be used with inward and outward facing curves. Both provide power to charge devices (which most travelers gravitate toward) either under an arm, a seat and Bay even features charging surfaces. The inward facing curves will be utilized more by groups who need the opportunity to connect and converse, while the outward facing curves provide more space and privacy between each person.
“The possibilities are endless,” exclaimed Coropulis—not just in terms of layout but a variety of accessories are available from dividers to lighting elements, tables and tablet arms.
It’s safe to say weary travelers everywhere are celebrating.