The design of airport interiors is playing an increasingly vital role in shaping the overall passenger experience. London-based design studio OMK shares its thoughts on the future and demonstrate why they are more than just a seating manufacturer.

For over 50 years, OMK has been at the forefront of the furniture industry with design lead innovation at the heart of the business. Having now supplied seating systems to over 350 airport projects, its experienced in-house design team offer layout planning, passenger flow and behavioural analysis consultation service to leading airport operators, architects and aviation consultants. The insights gained from this two-way process are directly fed into an advanced product development programme, which has resulted in many of the technological advancements that are now the industry standard in terminal seating.

Recent design trends have veered towards creating large open concourses to optimise passenger flow. Reacting to this, OMK has been promoting the use of dynamic seating layouts as an alternative to traditional liner seating rows. This is achieved through the use of a triangular table, which acts as a hub, articulating the seat runs to offer many different configurations. Case studies have demonstrated that this results in better passenger flow, an increase in seating capacity and higher retail footfall as the hub units provide a 360° view of the environment.

Taking this concept one step further, OMK has recently launched a new seating system designed specifically for dynamic layouts. Link is formed from a unique geometric shape and a simple linking device, which can be easily removed and reattached allowing for easy reconfiguration throughout the product lifecycle.

Designed specifically for high use applications, Link has an integral steel frame, which sits inside a moulded polyurethane cushion. Powder-coated steel legs are attached to the frame creating a modular unit with a range of accessories including dividers, tables and charging points.

To compliment Link, OMK has also released Bridge, a working table with integrated power and USB charging, to offer a standard to alternative tables traditionally designed as FFE items. Link and Bridge further extend their existing range of three systems, Trax, Flite and Seville, each designed to satisfy different requirements. This focused approach makes it quick and easy for their clients to select the correct product, a refreshing change in today’s market.

Trax has been in continuous production for over 30 years. The award-winning seating system has undergone a number of significant design changes and is now available in four different chassis options, which when combined with the extensive range of material finishes and accessories creates over 77,000 combinations. Making it OMK’s most versatile product, suitable for retail areas, gate rooms and external spaces.

Flite is designed primarily for gate rooms and rail concourses. The compact footprint provides a 10% increase in seating density over other products on the market. A minimalist design eliminates the need for pre-assembly and halves the time required for on-site assembly, not only producing a further cost-saving but resulting in less disruption to a live airport or station.

The iconic Seville bench is bi-directional making it perfect for use in baggage reclaim and rail platforms. Made entirely from aluminium, it can be placed in external areas such as smoking shelters. There are three standard supports allowing the bench to be floor-fixed, wall-mounted or free-standing. Options for bespoke mounting options to fit with any railing or cladding system are also available.

The coronavirus pandemic has further caused a shift in the way public spaces are used, especially in the airport environment where the requirement to limit the spread of germs and help passengers to feel safe is paramount. Dynamic seating, designed to ensure passengers face away from each other, can be used to accommodate larger groups. However, in some cases encouraging social distancing is more challenging, crowded departure gates require more direct intervention. OMK offers a removable social distancing strap as a temporary and relocatable solution. Further reconfiguration is possible due to the modular nature of OMK’s products, seats can easily be converted to tables creating new spaces to place luggage, and in turn, free up more floor space. Antimicrobial additives can now be added to any polyurethane product, further adding to passenger confidence.