The low-cost seat is at the heart of budget airlines’ promo image, and the essence of its business model. The question is, just how cheap is the engineering that goes into designing the lightest, smallest and most durable seat required to fit the most passengers on to a single flight?
The Ryanair Slimline seat epitomises how the essential necessities of meeting safety regulations and economic strategy finds a no-frills design form. In an effort to get to the bottom line of the Slimline seat’s true value, Flora Lechner has researched its technical innovation, certification processes and manufacturing. Numerous blind spots and unanswered questions point to the proprietary nature of certain details.
These blind spots formed the basis for artistic reinterpretations that take the cheapness of the seat to absurd extremes. To save space, a horse saddle and motorcycle seat are hybridised, nodding at the running joke about Ryanair offering standing seats. Made of anorak textile and inflated by constant airflow, another seat is so lightweight it is tethered like a hot air balloon. A combination of figurative and camping elements in cast aluminium depict the secretiveness around the seat’s skeleton. In contrast, the seat’s elaborate design, manufacturing, use and removal processes are depicted on a fresco.
Flora Lechner’s interdisciplinary approach combines art, design and performance to observe the power relations between body-object and body-space. The human and creative tendency to seek divine perfection is of particular interest.