THE FLIGHT DECK • January 2021
Once a part of your favourite planes, authentic aircraft parts get to enjoy a fantastic afterlife, providing unique materials that are prime for a bit of upcycling. This month, Norman Miller highlights a trio of British companies creating designer objects as evocative as they are covetable…
Plane Industries ingeniously transforms old airborne components into stunning aviation furniture – even morphing an RAF practice bomb into a drinks cabinet and an airline engine cowling into a gleaming desk. Another standout from its workshop are giant ball chairs fashioned from the engine cowlings of an American Boeing 737 or European BAe jet – letting you choose which side of the Atlantic to sit on! These epic seats are a luxurious 2m all round and spin effortlessly on a highly polished aluminium base. Groovy.
Standing around six feet tall, Plane Industries’ floor lamps are anything but ordinary – and draw on very different components, too. If you’re inspired by the 1950s French spotlights of A E Cremer, then switch on a floor lamp that began as the exhaust cone of a BAE 146, its rainbow-hued metal shimmering in blues, golds and purples that recall its fiery past. Art Deco fans, meanwhile, will love the way a leading-edge slat of a Boeing 737 wing morphs into a standing lamp that blends iconic curves and sharp edges to light up any room.
Darren Lewington founded Aerotiques after driving past a dilapidated Beechcraft Duke plane abandoned on an airfield, day-dreaming about how its propeller spinner would look taken off and polished up. Now his company creates design items including boardroom centrepieces, functional furniture and simple aviation-themed gifts. “Saving old aeroplanes, otherwise destined for scrap means the beauty of flight will live on,” says Lewington. We love the Boeing 727 JT8D exhaust cone coffee table, with its resonant elements of heat damage acquired over years of flight in the 1960s and 70s, plus little titanium engine compressor blades from the RAF’s classic Tornado combat jet as perfect desktop adornments. And raise a glass to the Tornado Drinks Cooler, carved from the cannon ammunition box salvaged from a Tornado BK-27 – a wonderful call to Make Drinks, Not War!
Andrew Jackman hunts down components around the world for his company, Intrepid Design. “Every piece is unique – and there is a fabulous story behind each one,” he says, pointing to a spectacular 2m-wide mirror made from a Boeing 737 engine cowling. As a quirky side note, the same plane’s forward fuselage became part of a restaurant called Steaks on a Plane in Greater Manchester, England. For a small space, meanwhile, look no further than airplane windows made into mirrors – something to gaze into rather than out of.
Intrepid Design’s awesome LP2 coffee table spins and lights up. It’s based on turbines that once lifted a Harrier Jump Jet – the RAF’s pioneering VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) plane that made its debut in 1967 – “An iconic aircraft with lots of history,” says Jackman, somewhat understatedly. For something more vintage, he sourced a 1940s Jacobs radial engine from a classic US propeller plane, which he turned from an unprepossessing hunk of metal into a jaw-dropping radial coffee table.