Finalist 2020

Repose: An Economy Class Aircraft Cabin Designed For Sleep

Monash University / Monash Design Health Collab / TEAGUE

Repose improves the inflight sleep of economy passengers through the design of the cabin instead of the seat.

Sleep on an aircraft is a privilege for a few instead of a basic need that is met for all. Current solutions for better inflight sleep require passengers to purchase tickets in flying classes that are outside the financial reach of most travellers.

Repose is an aircraft cabin that improves the inflight sleep of economy passengers through the design of the cabin instead of the seat. Its central feature is a lateral sleep interface that turns the most dreaded seats in the economy cabin into some of the most desirable seats without affecting the cabin passenger capacity.

Design Excellence

Repose was scientifically informed and holistically considerate of passengers, aircraft manufacturers, airlines and regulatory authorities. Rapid iterations of prototypes in collaboration with industry and scientific partners led to grounded, straightforward and effective solution that is composed of;

  • The Lateral sleep interfaces which provide side support to passengers sleeping in window and mid-cabin seats;
  • Sleep onset cabin lighting that provides visibility but does not disturb sleep hormones;
  • Personalised temperature regulation vents above each passenger;
  • A combined system of passive and active noise control technologies; and
  • A cabin design aesthetic language that is tuned for better sleep.

Design Impact

Health and Economic Impacts: Repose improves passenger sleep health as one night of sleeplessness can cause reduced attention and alertness, mood alterations, diminished memory processing, reduced executive function, and impairments in cognition and physiology. This can be detrimental to passengers when they take on activities such as driving, skilled tasks or critical decision making upon arrival.

Environmental Impacts: Current flying technology have major environmental Impacts. Therefore the Repose cabin is designed to enhance cabin efficiency while enhancing passenger comfort and dignity.

Business Impacts: Better sleep in economy class can be a major strategic advantage for the aviation industry.

Design Transformation

The Repose aircraft cabin design research and its outcomes benefited;

  • Economy aircraft passengers with better inflight sleep comfort and health;
  • The designer/design researcher with a successful PhD award;
  • The Victorian/Australian Design Institution with research advances, and further successes in collaborating with international industry;
  • The industry partners with strategic, business and technology advantages and intellectual property through multiple utility patents and design patents/registrations in Australia, USA, Canada, Europe, China, and Brazil; and
  • Design Thinking by providing further evidence that designs method can reliably and effectively deliver straightforward solutions to complex problems.

Design Innovation

The only seating preferences in economy are “window” or “aisle”. Passengers elsewhere are there for reasons outside of proxemic comfort. The most dreaded is the mid-cabin seats. The most favoured (for sleep) are the window seats – due to the ability to lean on the wall.

With the Repose lateral sleep interfaces, all window seats become better sleeping seats and the dreaded mid-cabin seats are elevated to become as desirable as the window seats. These advantages, combined with the lighting, temperature and noise control designs effectively improve the economy passenger sleep comfort without changing the cabin capacity and efficiency.

Other Key Features

  • Repose is an outcome of a PhD Design Research Project;
  • The project was made possible through a scholarship by, and done in partnership with – TEAGUE a global design consultancy with a long-standing track record in aerospace design and technologies;
  • Repose employed the full mechanism of the Design Action Research method;
  • The project was an astounding success for both academic and industry partners; and
  • The project involved heavy use of prototypes in the form of sketches, Lego models, CAD models, scaled representations and full-sized verification mock-ups throughout the course of development.

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