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Muirhead unveils neurodiverse-friendly aircraft seat covers

Scottish supplier of high-performance leather to airlines and seat manufacturers, Muirhead, has today unveiled its pioneering vision for neurodiverse-friendly aircraft seat covers.

Image courtesy Muirhead

Designed with neurodivergent adults in mind, the Scottish supplier’s new ‘Sensation’ collection seeks to inspire CMF designers as they envision the future of people-focused aircraft cabins.

With up to 80% of disabled individuals living with a non-visible disability, the project highlights the importance of seat cover design in fostering an inclusive onboard experience for all travellers.

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The collection is designed to address common barriers to travel for neurodivergent passengers, including those with neurological or developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, learning impairments, or ADHD.

Visitors to this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) will have the opportunity to learn more about Sensation and experience Muirhead’s interactive sensory design studio, which offers attendees a respite from the bustling trade show environment.

Jamie O’Donnell (above), Designer at Muirhead, said: “Air travel can be overwhelming for anyone but especially for neurodivergent individuals who tend to have heightened sensitivities compared to neurotypical travellers. Seat covers play a vital role in providing them with comfort and a sense of security, enabling them to better regulate their emotions onboard.

“While the industry is making strides towards accessible and inclusive cabin design, many current approaches tend to be overly medicalised or infantilising towards adults with non-visible disabilities. The inclusive cabin of the future must balance functionality with aesthetic appeal.

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“We look forward to showcasing Sensation at AIX 2024 and supporting airlines and seat manufacturers in fostering a more inclusive and accommodating travel experience for all.”

To guide the design process, Muirhead worked closely with Scottish disability consultancy VIA, conducted extensive research and spoke directly with neurodivergent individuals who have faced barriers while travelling.

The new collection features a soothing monochromatic palette of greens, blues and neutrals to evoke a calming atmosphere – highlighting the precise colour matching capabilities of Muirhead’s in-house Colour Team.  

Harnessing the supplier’s advanced digital printing capabilities, the Sensation collection also demonstrates how signage and patterns on leather seat covers could help passengers locate their seats and process their environment.

Other key features of the new Muirhead collection include a variety of bespoke leather embosses, highlighting the importance of textures in curating a multisensory experience for neurodivergent travellers.

Meanwhile, the project underscores the importance of material choice in creating inclusive seating, as neurodivergent individuals often favour natural materials as they offer a less invasive sensory experience than synthetic alternatives.

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