Aerospace thermoplastics giant, Sekisui Kydex is striving to further intertwine the worlds of design and manufacturing to offer the products that aircraft interiors sector really needs in terms of colour, material, finish (CMF), and overall design options. Its work is being furthered with the promotion of Karyn McAlphin to the role of design director, where she will be responsible for creative elements, as well as focusing on the production of Kydex Thermoplastics and customer-facing experiences at Sekisui Kydex. McAlphin joined the company in 2017, in the role of design strategist.
McAlphin is a former Kydex thermoplastics customer, having served as senior manager of marketing & branding at US Airways, which enables her to truly “think like the customer” in her role as design director. “I really enjoy translating customers’ wants and needs into viable solutions. Thoughtful design can significantly improve the customer experience, not only by ensuring everything looks right and works right, but also by eliciting a positive emotional response. I’m excited to help others realise the value of design in business,” she said of her design philosophy.
A love of aviation
Even in childhood, McAlphin had an eye for colour and design. Her prized possession was a 72-colour box of Crayola crayons, which she carefully organised by colour while memorising their names, like Prussian Blue, Aquamarine, and Burnt Umber. Growing up, Karyn’s family travelled frequently and her early desire to become a flight attendant, coupled with her fascination in checking out hotel interiors on a floor-by floor-basis, clearly foreshadowed her 18 years’ experience working on aircraft interiors.
A native Californian, McAlphin graduated with a BA in fine arts from UCLA and then chose to pursue a second BA in photographic illustration from Brooks Institute of Photography, with a specialisation in audio-visual communications. She then moved to the Pacific Northwest to pursue media production, and relocated to Virginia for 17 years to work in USAir’s corporate marketing department. During her 25-year career with the airline, culminating in the role of senior manager of marketing & branding, McAlphin worked on a variety of high-profile projects, including the corporate rebranding of USAir to US Airways, the launch of Inflight Café (the first airline industry food for sale programme), the design and development of a custom-tailored uniform programme for 13,000 frontline employees, and development of the Envoy Suite, a business class seat hailed by the press as a game-changer at its launch.
Joining Sekisui Kydex as design strategist in 2017, McAlphin reflected on her career so far: “During my first year, my time was evenly divided between mass transit, medical devices, and aviation. It was exciting to learn about new industries. The following year, I focused primarily on aviation – my area of expertise – and this year, I’m seeing a fascinating trend develop where aviation and mass transit are looking to the medical industry for new ideas. Cross-pollination across our core markets and future markets will be extremely important going forward.”
“Karyn brings a unique design perspective as Sekisui Kydex enters into new projects and opportunities. She has embraced Sekisui Kydex’s culture over the last three years, and has taken the time to learn and understand the emphasis that we put on the customer experience. Karyn will continue to play a pivotal role in helping our customers understand and utilise our high value, bespoke products like Infused Imaging technology,” said Nik Taritas, the company’s VP of sales.
“I’m thrilled for Karyn and this opportunity where she will be able to widen her scope while working with cross-functional teams to bring programmes for all market spaces to completion. Karyn’s design knowledge will effectively leverage our customer’s insights for their programmes and help to create the best overall customer experience,” added Bernadette Chupela, customer experience manager.