Celia Sawyer is a talented businesswoman, running several enterprises which include interior design, property development, film projects, and sourcing artefacts for celebrity clients. Sawyer is also fast-becoming a celebrity in her own right, as one of the stars of Four Rooms, a UK TV programme in which four dealers bid on various artefacts brought in by the public, which have so far included everything from Hitler’s toilet to a Concorde nose cone.
Less well-known, however, is her latest venture: designing aircraft interiors. She has started small, with Cool10, her interior design company based in London’s swanky Knightbridge, designing personalised line-fit and retrofit interiors for the Pilatus PC-12, a US$4.6m turboprop aircraft.
Aircraft design is a new part of the Cool10 service, as Sawyer explains, “We were recently approached by Pilatus, and they asked us to do some interior design for their clients. It’s rather nice work, and so far three clients have approached us and we are working on their designs now. We also have some other businesspeople interested, and they all like different things. One wants a James Bond theme for his cabin, which is exciting. If we can produce something cool like that it will be great; it won’t be naff, it will be futuristic. We have another client who works in a highly stressed business and wants something relaxing for his interior, very tonal and earthy and low-key, so a totally different type of style. We also have a couple of Russian clients who prefer the showing off side, and like a bit of a sci-fi theme, though they still want very luxurious interiors.”
So what will be the hallmarks of Cool10 cabins? “It’s the complete design, the overall look of it. My thing is comfort with luxury, so you have everything you could possibly want in the cabin at the highest specification, and we push the boundaries a little,” says Sawyer. “I don’t take loads of risks with weird and wonderful electronics I stick to the stuff that works and that I have trust in. So the finishes will be very superior to what you get from the factory, and will include beautiful woods, marble, onyx, steel, and all sorts of lovely silks, leather and cashmere, so the look will be very rich and opulent. We also modify the seats for greater comfort; our clients won’t spend as long in the PC-12 as in a larger jet, but the seats should be luxurious. You can go quite mad on an aircraft it’s much more fun that residential work!”
Speaking of residential design work, will that experience inform the aircraft interiors? “That crossover from residential design is starting to happen. I think more and more people are going for more luxurious aircraft interiors, especially if they’re travelling a little further and more regularly. As opposed to the standard fit-out, it’s nice for them to extend their personality into the aircraft,” says Sawyer.
“The PC-12 is quite a good size for a small aircraft, and it’s interesting to work in a small space. Obviously when we work on a house it usually has nice, large-sized rooms, and a lot of room to manoevre, but apart from the size restraints, we view our aircraft projects the same as designing the interior of a lovely home. And it’s not that different, strangely enough. It’s possible that a client may push for something wacky in an aircraft, which you could introduce to a residential property, but in reverse, you can push that idea further on an aircraft.”
Of course a residential design doesn’t need to be certified though, so how is the team coping with this new challenge? “It’s a steep learning curve, but we have Pilatus to help us, and we can work with their suppliers to create the fabrics and materials we want to use, which helps quite a bit.”
So what’s next for Sawyer’s aircraft work? “We are looking at all sorts of options. We are working with a client on a Gulfstream V now to re-fit it because it’s quite tired. The client takes the jet to Mexico regularly so we have a few things in the pipeline to suit its use, which is fun and very exciting.”
And how about expanding into commercial aircraft interior design? “I don’t see why not, we’d love to. As long as they like a little bit of luxury!”
Celia was speaking to Adam Gavine