Challenge Accepted

The designer Martin Kemp explains how he refitted a Bombardier Challenger 604 from the inside out.

The Challenger is the third jet I have designed although the second we have done at my company MKD. We were asked to undertake the project by an existing client who had seen an earlier plane we had executed; they wanted something similar but with their own influence.

Working on a jet interior is quite different to conventional design, principally owing to weight and combustibility. We are often restricted to using a limited range of materials that require specific safety standards, most notably a 12-second vertical burn test. We also have to consider the motion of the plane and avoid sharp edges and corners.

Another client once asked us to instal an on-board bath but this at the time wasn’t possible – the risk of a large volume of water spilling over into avionic electronics wasn’t something we could consider.
The challenge of working with restriction often brings out the best in us and in this instance our work became simplified, focusing on luxury detail.

The client was clear with their brief from colour to layout, although we of course massaged this into the scheme we built and imbued it with our usual touches.

The client had seen another aircraft we built and requested a similar approach, so that was a great start. From there we allowed our creativity to take over and reinterpreted ideas, bringing a freshness to what our client had seen.

Style develops with time and we continually find inspiration from researching on the web to travelling the world, from dreaming up our own concepts to developing materials with consultants. Additionally of course we check in with our clients to see if they’ve been inspired by their own travels – it all helps to keep our ideas evolving.

I don’t think it would be a surprise to say Art Deco is a timeless style we regularly find inspiration from. But it’s important to us that the vernacular we choose suits our clients and the architecture of their home. Perhaps one day a new vernacular will emerge – our own unique style.

We are a cautious business, careful to grow and emerge into the public eye without shouting too loudly. There’s no question we enjoy the projects we have been requested to undertake – from planes to yachts, houses to developments – though we like to think that there is room for more. Perhaps a restaurant, a boutique, a retail collection, our own fragrance, keep watching…

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