New Economy Seats: The Future May Soon Be Here…But Will They Change Anything?

"Just let the designer sit in such hard seat for 12 hours and we’ll see."

Is there anything worse than walking past Business’ lie-flat beds only to schlup yourself into Economy?

There doesn’t even need to be a deodorant-denier to your left, or a coughing couple to your right; Economy seats alone (and having the person in front of you ram theirs into your face) are enough to make the strongest among us lose faith.

The smarty-pants at Layer Design last year unveiled an Economy seat concept that aimed to solve this.

“MOVE is a lightweight airline seat concept by LAYER for @airbus designed to improve the experience of economy class flying.”

As Layer Designs announced on Instagram in December 2019, this seat design “recently won Gold at the prestigious @drivenxdesign London Design Awards.”


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While we commend any effort to improve cattle class, questions have been raised over how much this new idea will improve Economy.

The doubts? Read and weep. Here’s what Instagram users had to say about Layer’s new design. From minor gripes to major quibbles, Economy passengers are far from sold.

First up: mobility. As one Instagram user points out: “The ability to raise the aisle side armrest is critical for some passengers with mobility issues.” This is something Layer Designs’ new concept appears to lack.

On top of that, as various users picked up on, the seats don’t look cosy. From, “doesn’t look comfortable at all” to “just let the designer sit in such hard seat for 12 hours and we’ll see” this was a common observation.

“Where is my tray and pocket?” asked another, while yet a further user wrote, “how about some lumbar support?”. That said, there were a number of positive comments as well, like, “this is an amazing concept and I’d love to have those airline seats in real life.”


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Here at DMARGE, we see where people are coming from with the negative comments, but also think it’s worth pointing out that the seats are designed with space and weight saving in mind (as we assume, per the brief).

They also contain a few contraptions that should help comfort, which the dismissive commenters neglected to mention (or notice). Foremost among them: a fixed seatback, which means the person in front of you can’t recline their seat into your personal space.

This, Layer Designs says, aims to solve the issue of “legroom rage” caused by passengers unnecessarily reclining on shorter flights. The seats are also connected to a series of sensors that detect both the passenger’s body and the conditions of their chair, in order to improve the experience.

As Dezeen reports, “This includes temperature, seat tension, pressure and movement – conditions that can be monitored and controlled by passengers via their phone, using Layer’s Move app.”

“The Move app analyses the data collected by the sensors, and sends targeted messages to the passenger telling them how they can improve their comfort.”

“These include prompting,” Dezeen continues, “to get up and move around the cabin to improve circulation, to do in-seat stretches or to stay hydrated.”

Oh and “users can further customise their seat conditions via the app by selecting different modes such as ‘massage’, ‘meal time’ or ‘sleep.'”

Plus: “The smart cover also has zones of differing density knit to offer different levels of support to the body.”

“During the flight, the seat automatically adjusts itself based on the passenger’s weight, size and movement by passing a current through the conductive yarn to change the seat tension.”

Sounds promising. But we’ll wait until it’s been tested on a long haul flight before casting final judgement.