Design in the Sky: High-lights from the Golden Age of Flying

Travel and style have always been synonymous, bringing together architecture, interior decor, fashion, entertainment, and adventure unlike anything else. Yet in the age of paying for overhead baggage and microwaved in-flight meals, we long for the luxurious quarters and impeccable service from the airlines of yesteryear.  If you - and your minimal leg room- agree, indulge in TORTUGA's selection of design highlights from the golden age of flying. 

  

Designer serving trays: Joe Colombo for Alitalia Air, 1970s.

Furniture designer Joe Colombo adhered to the 1960s zeitgeist of a "future environment," and designed most of his pieces with space-travel in mind. It was only natural for him to gravitate towards serving ware for airlines. This modular dinner set, complete with silverware, is what in-flight dreams are made of.

 

Airport architectural wonders: TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport, 1962.

Bathazar Korab, TWA Terminal at Idlewild Airport (now JFK Airport), 1964.

The TWA Flight Center at JFK airport "was so evocative of flight, the mere sight of it was supposed to initiate the journey" (Christine Negroni, New York Times.) Designed by architecture-icon Eero Saarinen, the terminal was a landmark for travelers in and out of New York's busiest airport. Although the building was officially closed in 2005, preservationists can rejoice - it is set to re-open as a refurbished hotel lobby and air-travel museum in 2019.

  

Intriguing on-board seating: Boeing 747, 1970s.

The mundane layout of row after row in today's aircrafts can be mind-numbing. A little intricacy in the seating, like this lounge-style area from a 1970s flight, would do wonders for in-flight boredom. 

 

Exquisite airport lounges: Pan-Am, 1960s. 

The merging of art-deco with mid-century modern in the airport lounges of Pan Am is a vision for vintage interior lovers. The experience was so iconic that it was recently recreated for Chrissy Teigan's birthday party - complete with a working airline set and cast of flight attendant actors to bring the golden age of in-flight service to life.

 

Gourmet in-flight meals: Scandinavian Airlines, 1950s-1980s.

From fresh Norwegian lobster to carving trays of roasted meats, the culinary experience of the mid-century jetsetter might be what we long for most. Not only were the meals often plated in front of passengers by the chef, there was also a sommelier on board to recommend wine pairings. Besides the feasts - don't think we overlooked that kitschy place mats and window curtains. Color us jealous!

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