The design mavens of the Midlands create a celebrity jet–and there’s nothing plane about it
By Vincent Hamilton
In an unassuming structure just south of Birmingham, where England’s bucolic countryside meets its industrial estates, Design Q is quietly creating elegant, groundbreaking designs for transportation on the ground, in the air, and on the water.
Don’t know Design Q? Well you certainly know their work: the designers and engineers at this consultancy have produced some of the most coveted, high-performance automobiles on the road, including the Jaguar S-Type and SK8, the Maserati MC12, and the Ferrari FXX. A less familiar design is the one-of-a-kind Aston Martin re-created by the minds of Design Q. The owner of this QV8 thought the car “too pedestrian.” So Design Q completely redesigned the interior and refined the exterior, resulting in a uniquely luxurious, bespoke vehicle the owner could truly call his own.
Since getting their start designing automobiles for Jaguar, Design Q founders Gary Doy and Howard Guy have been producing premium transport design solutions for all modes of transport, including helicopters and other aircraft for Saudi Royalty, super-yachts for the super-rich, private and commercial jets, and even motorcycles.
Their first foray beyond cars was a project for Princess Yachts that almost never happened. The venerable boat builder was skeptical that the qualities that made Guy’s and Doy’s car design so arresting would translate onto the high seas. Guy defeated doubt with audacity: “A three-week project,” he announced. “If you don’t like it, don’t pay us.” When the project was delivered, an ovation was received. Design Q was making waves.
Because of their clientele’s status, the agency rarely has the freedom to divulge the facts of their work. But there is one recent project they are able to talk about: the Airbus A319 Celebrity Jet. Approached by Jan Nieberle, leader of Project U, Lufthansa Technik’s VIP Interior Concept Program, Guy and Doy agreed to design a VIP interior for an extremely high-profile celebrity family.
The client, who Guy merely describes as “youthful, dynamic, stylish, and family-oriented,” but who rumor has as soccer star David Beckham, required an interior that reflected his personality and accommodated his family’s lifestyle. In short, the client wanted the plane to be an alternate home, office, and entertainment center unlike anything else. The challenge put to Design Q was to design a space that accommodated work, play and rest, while keeping to the standards of aircraft certification.
Having established an understanding with the client, Guy and Doy immediately leaped beyond the stated expectations. “People don’t know what’s possible,” explains Guy. “We can’t be satisfied with what people want; we look to revolutionize the thinking and expectations of our clients.” And so they did.
First came the storyboard sketches: the initial, expressive renderings of the pair’s ideas. Once the client approved a direction, Design Q implemented high-tech tools to capture the concept with precision and clarity. The result is a luxurious aircraft that offers a uniquely versatile space for in-flight living.