"Food Service Experience" above the clouds

Philipp Emmert dealt with the “Smart Economy Service Experience” during air travel at the Phoenix Design Academy. From that experience, the industrial designer has deduced his concept for a holistic „Food Service Experience“ for passangers and stewards. The designed components comprise: Service Units (Meal Server, Refiller), Travel Bottle, self-heating Smart Packaging.

Download these pictures:
  • 1 - Sven Feustel and Philipp Emmert during brainstorming

    1 - Sven Feustel and Philipp Emmert during brainstorming

    Philipp Emmert (right) is studying Industrial Design at the Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts & Design. He wrote his bachelor thesis at the Phoenix Design Academy, mentored by Sven Feustel (left), Design Team Manager at Phoenix Design. (Photo: Phoenix Design)

  • 2 - Smart Food Service Experience - Design

    2 - Smart Food Service Experience - Design

    Credits: Philipp Emmert, Bachelor Thesis, Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts & Design. Academic Advisor: Prof. Detlef Rhein; Sven Feustel, Design Team Manager. (Photo: Phoenix Design)

  • 3 - Smart Food Service Experience - Packaging & Travel Bottle

    3 - Smart Food Service Experience - Packaging & Travel Bottle

    Credits: Philipp Emmert, Bachelor Thesis, Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts & Design. Academic Advisor: Prof. Detlef Rhein; Sven Feustel, Design Team Manager. (Photo: Phoenix Design)

  • 4 - Smart Food Service Experience - Refilling

    4 - Smart Food Service Experience - Refilling

    Credits: Philipp Emmert, Bachelor Thesis, Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts & Design. Academic Advisor: Prof. Detlef Rhein; Sven Feustel, Design Team Manager. (Photo: Phoenix Design)

  • 5 - Smart Food Service Experience

    5 - Smart Food Service Experience

    Credits: Philipp Emmert, Bachelor Thesis, Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts & Design. Betreuer: Prof. Detlef Rhein; Sven Feustel, Design Team Manager. (Foto: Phoenix Design)

The airline industry has to live with severe restrictions in terms of safety and economic feasibility. So due to the strict safety regulations, the enormous efficiency, and the high competitive pressure among airlines, Aviation Design is a very narrow field to work in where innovations are very hard to realise. DIN standards define design, and travellers take on a lower priority. There is comparatively little leeway for airlines to differentiate themselves from their competitors. However, unique service still offers differentiation potential – and this is where the holistic Food Service Experience comes in.

Even when still at home, passengers can configure their in-flight meals right after checking in online. At the airport, after the security check, they get their personal travel bottle which they can refill on board the plane at one of the service units there. During the flight, they can heat their meal by simply pressing a button in order to decide on their own accord when they want to have their meal. At the destination airport, passengers can refill their travel bottle once again and use it over and beyond the on-board service all the way to their final destination.

For Sven Feustel, Design Team Manager and Coach at the Phoenix Design Academy, it was important to conceive the topic of “mobility” in closer context with the final consumer. The process of flying gets decentralised for a better competitive positioning. Since the service already starts at home and only ends at the final destination, passengers turn into “Masters of Possibilities”. Their vital needs are fulfilled in a more individual way, and the travel experience itself is being charged with more comfort and quality. “This project is highly relevant because the user-centric perspective and the brand typical competitive differentiation hold a very big potential. The smart Food Service Experience not only comprises new approaches in Aviation Design but also a principally new attitude regarding people’s mobility,” says Feustel.


In our interview, Philipp Emmert answers central questions about the smart Food Service Experience during air travel.

Why do we need an holistic Food Service Experience?
Economy Class air travel is more and more characterised by mass processing. I think that being able to use the holistic Food Service Experience to once again provide new emotions about flying for passengers, but also flight attendants, while at the same time putting the user in the focus of interest, is extremely important for the future development of air travel.

What were the project/design challenges?
The biggest challenge about the project was consciously distancing myself from the standardised, limited and restricted aviation industry. The design needed to achieve a clear distinction from the already existing trolleys. In addition, it is important that it’s not the products themselves which are in the foreground, but rather the newly created user experience.

What's so special about the design?
The design of the Service Units aims at creating a precisely contradictive image compared to the otherwise known trolleys. Soft shapes, materiality, and a hovering impression want to create a friendly, snug, and furniture-like look-and-feel. At the same time, I wanted to find a uniform design language so that the Smart Packaging, the Travel Bottle and the Service Units harmonise with each other while taking up typical airplane characteristics.

How do you picture the future of service during air travel?
I think, in the future, service will and should get a clearly higher importance. Service offers an extremely big potential for differentiation among airlines, moving the passenger into the focus of interest. I think that in today’s society in particular, a user-centric service approach is paramount. At the same time, developing the Internet of Thing (IoT) will open up entirely new service opportunities.

What do you find fascinating about this?
The topic of flying is already fascinating in and by itself. To imagine that it is possible to lift off with a high-tech contraption weighing many tons and to move around 10 km above the Earth, is still all but inconceivable to me. To witness how this industry will develop in the future will be very interesting, especially if you consider that 200 years ago, people could only dream about flying.


About the Phoenix Design Academy

The Phoenix Design Academy is an Innovation Lab for young and experienced designers where they can realise and share their visions. The shared claim is to work on topics relevant for society and to find new solutions for current problems. As project leaders, the students go through the entire creative design process – starting with finding first ideas via prototype iterations all the way to the finished product ready for realisation. They are accompanied by their mentor Sven Feustel, Design Team Manager with Phoenix Design, and other specialist experts from the Phoenix team.