As part of Embraer Executive Jets’ leadership team, Jay Beever finds him in an unusual place as a designer. His role as VP of Interior Design for the company allows him to surprise and delight customers with unexpected innovations to their personal aircraft, a realm not many interior designers enter in the industry.
“I take most pride in the design team that we have built within Embraer,” Beever says. “Just five years ago, Embraer Executive Jets was in the habit of hiring third-party design resources to develop their future interiors. We no longer have this lead because of the world-class team we have internally developing our future Jets and interior DNA.”
Beever talked with ChicagoMOD about the design process on a private aircraft, and what sets Embraer Executive Jets apart from others in the industry.
ChicagoMOD: What sets Embraer Executive Jets apart from others in the private aviation industry?
Jay Beever: Most OEMs are pretty compatible with each other when it comes to the capability of the aircraft in a performance sense. My feeling is that Embraer Executive Jets has an X factor that differentiates us from others. That X Factor is mostly due to the customer experience and overall relationship with our brand. In an industry like ours, which is highly regulated, It’s really about how many different ways you can say “yes” to the customer rather than no.Our Customer Support and Services organization continues to be ranked number one because of how we treat the customer. Our interiors are sophisticated and advanced for the sake of the customer not for the sake of ourselves or the design. It’s really a selfless approach in achieving the expectation of our customers while at the same time providing the “wow” factor they’re not expecting.
When customers meet with us, it doesn’t take long for them to figure out that we’re on a quest, a quest to deliver true value to the customer, and ultimately improve the customer experience.
CM: How is the design process unique from other aircraft makers?
JB: Embraer Executive Jets empowers customers to become the ultimate designer of their aircraft. Our design team works closely with customers throughout every step of their design process.We’ve implemented the use of photorealistic CAD tools that allow us to return to the customer with images of their interior within 30 minutes of selecting their trim styles. This helps customers realize their interior in full detail with the hope they find additional need for modification. We want to provide full exploration early on so there are no surprises later when their airplane is delivered to them.
ChicagoMOD: As VP of Interior Design, how do you approach a customer’s interior? What makes aviation interiors differ from other sorts of interior?
JB: People may liken aviation design to transportation design, but rather, it’s environmental design. Our DNA Design strategy begins with ergonomics, prioritizing human factors, such as seating comfort and ergonomic interfaces with the seats, cabin controls and entertainment systems. Next, we pay great attention to the level of craftsmanship that goes into executing each design detail. Our customers are discerning and it’s our goal to ensure every detail exceeds their expectations. This mindset sets apart our aircraft from other business jets.
Lastly, design brings timeless signatures and creates zones of personalization that allow the customer to select areas where they will express their particular tastes. This also allows the aircraft’s interior design to be revisited within an ownership lifecycle, or from one to another, without the need for a complete overhaul. This architectural plan for design also helps customers preserve the value of their aircraft throughout ownership.
CM: You help to create personalized living spaces in the air. Can you tell us about some specific personalizations that you’ve helped curate? (Floor-to-ceiling windows, luxurious two-person showers and hidden technology)
JB: We work with our clients to create solutions that are personalized to their exact specifications. This can be something as simple as selecting a specific paint scheme or designing and crafting carbon fiber monuments to reveal the most exquisite details of a customer’s personal taste. For example, we had a customer who, after discovering our capabilities, requested that we create carbon fiber monuments in his aircraft that matched his Pagani’s carbon fiber interior. We finished his side ledges, bulkheads and cabinetry with carbon fiber surfaces that looked piano black, until light graced their surfaces, revealing a very three-dimensionally rich pattern.
Of course, many customers are also interested in outfitting their aircraft with large windows–whether they’re floor-to-ceiling as seen in the Kyoto Airship or wider than usual as designed in the Manhattan and Hollywood Airship. Customers are drawn to this specific feature because they provide additional light, making the aircraft feel larger, but they also feel more connected to the natural environment. In this modern era, it’s much easier for our team to execute a customer’s vision because we have access to technology that allows us to do this more and more, even in extreme environments, like while we are flying in an airplane.
For many of our customers, their business jet often serves as their second home so we work with them to create a luxurious living space in the air. This can include incorporating a 2-person, stand-up granite shower in our larger clean-sheet aircrafts such as the Lineage 1000E. By including a simple necessity such as a shower, their jet instantly adds an additional layer of ease and comfort to their travels – whether for leisure or business.
Our customers also expect innovative technology on board, but we understand this should be hidden for a beautiful and serene environment. To fulfill that tendency, we have introduced the upper technology panel in the Legacy 450 and Legacy 500, so that we can easily reach for reading lights and ambient lighting without the need to “hunt and peck” through a cabin management LCD control on the ledge. We indeed have one of these controllers on our ledge, but it can be hidden away under a furniture-like application. In addition, this upper technology panel, which is executed similar to a smart phone, provides in-flight information at a glance, allowing us to know where we are along our flight path without having to interrupt our conversations or our entertainment. I call this the “butler with wings.” The aircraft serving you, rather than you serving it.
CM: What kinds of customizations are available to the client?
JB: Every single aircraft we make is unique. Each customer’s life journey and design references are essential elements of the process to personalize each customer’s aircraft. While each aircraft has varying degrees of personalization based on the size of the interior space, customer involvement is key, from concept to completion.
From an interior design point of view, there are a plethora of new material options ranging from environmentally-friendly to exotic. This allows for incredible diversity, making each aircraft unique and a trend-setter in its own way. More customers are presenting a conscience that extends beyond their ownership lifecycle, and interest is rising for sustainable materials, such as chrome-free leather—for a biodegradable afterlife—and bio-friendly materials, with greater recycling capabilities.
CM: Can you tell us about Manhattan and Hollywood’s concept designs?
JB: The Manhattan and Hollywood Airships were inspired by the French ocean liner, SS Normandie. The ship’s interior was representative of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne interior design and it had a lasting influence on Art Deco. With this inspiration in mind, I contacted my friend and frequent collaborator, Eddie Sotto, former Disney Imagineer and renowned designer.
We bonded over the thrill of resurrecting the art deco designs found in the buildings, furniture, jewelry, cars and ocean liners of the 1920’s and 1930’s, with the Normandie cruise liner providing specific inspiration to the project. Intensive research generated specific interest in famous art deco destinations, including Manhattan and Hollywood, leading the way for captivating storylines pertinent to the private aviation experience. With that, the team breathed life into a concept that would bring the thrill back to flying and give passengers a reason to dress up - namely a chic air shuttle, capable of connecting the art deco cities that inspired the concept in the first place.
The effort includes two designs. The Manhattan, featuring deep, rich woods, is the embodiment of the Empire State Building crossed with the Rainbow Room, whereas the Hollywood has a bright, silver screen appeal. This balance of dark and light materials characterizes the relationship between East Coast and West Coast styles. While the aircraft have similar configurations and design aesthetics, the designs are polarizing but with a playful balance.
The Lineage 1000E is the ideal canvas for this shuttle aircraft, with roots in commercial aviation accounting for superior reliability, operating costs and space. The aircraft’s five cabin zones have been configured to create the ultimate adult playground. Unlike most business jets, you don’t board the plane at the galley. In fact, all crew resources have cleverly been moved to the back of the plane, out of site. Guests entering the plane are greeted in a plush lounge, complete with art and architecture that set the mood for the journey. The first cabin zone, the Cloud Bar, features striking fold-up bar stools and an Embraer-exclusive portrait view window. The living space is ripe for a party with a variety of club seating options. Only the most exclusive guests are invited back to the private Crystal Room, capable of hosting a refined dining experience for up to six passengers.
In true Embraer fashion, the Manhattan and the Hollywood feature a unique blend of form and function. The Lineage 1000E exceeds every expectation in terms of utility, demonstrating Embraer’s unique expertise, via a bespoke experience on a traditionally commercial route. Simply put, these aircraft are intended to make the journey fun again. First class is a gross understatement.
CM: When you are designing an aircraft, what are some key things you keep in mind
JB: It’s important for us to remember that our customers live a journey distinct from ours and offer firsthand insight that is invaluable. Our perspective on their preferences and tastes in their home, office, vehicles, and yachts allow us to guide them in one of their highest value acquisitions. We are the stewards of the customer within the Company. In partnership with our engineers, we learn how our products are used and this helps us learn to make future products that wow the customer with innovative ideas that would otherwise be unpredictable.