Layer Design and Airbus bring the ‘class’ back to economy class

The bane of air-travel, aside from noisy children and overpriced peanuts of course, is the fact that you’re stuck in an uncomfortable chair with practically no cushioning and hardly any leg-room. The economy class of an airplane is designed to be just that… economical. It sacrifices comfort, the need of personal space, and probably even its share of functionality just to make sure it can host as many passengers on the plane. We justify this mild discomfort because “it’s only for a few hours, right?”

In collaboration with Airbus, Benjamin Hubert of LAYER Design has developed what may just be the future of the economy class. An 18-month long project, Hubert’s transformed the very idea of the economy class without compromising on the quantitative nature of economical travel. Introducing smart fabrics that fit futuristic possibilities into a single sheet of cloth, and a thin, strong frame that holds everything together (along with a pretty remarkable tray system), Hubert and Airbus’s design, titled ‘Move’, allows seating to remain thin yet comfortable, and even makes accommodations for entertainment, storage, and even the so-far-unsolvable problem of legroom. The result is seating that occupies less space, but doesn’t let that be perceived as a con. It makes up for everything with top-notch design, engineering, and technology, allowing the economical class to feel classy.


The Move employs a smart textile seat cover (polyester wool blend – for heat regulation, robustness, and tactility – with integrated conductive yarn) that’s mounted on a robust aircraft grade aluminium and carbon fibre frame. “The knitted seat cover has zones of various density knit that offer different levels of support to the body. Throughout the journey, the Move seat automatically adjusts based on passenger weight, size, and movement to maintain optimal ergonomic comfort”, says Hubert. “This is made possible by passing current through the conductive yarn to vary the seat tension. The passenger can make additional adjustments to the seat based on personal preference using the Move app. The Move app can also be used to engage different seat modes, such as ‘massage’, ‘mealtime’, or ‘sleep’.”


With a set fabric that can change density, flexibility, and even temperature, the Move doesn’t need to worry about integrating foam panels for cushioning, and even ditches the reclining mechanism. The reclining mechanism helps chairs feel more relaxing by changing one’s posture. However, a posture change also results in the eternal legroom problem. “The position of the seat is fixed – which addresses the issue of ‘legroom rage’ caused by passengers unnecessarily reclining on shorter flights”- instead, the chair’s fabric possesses the ability to learn from your posture, build, and body temperature, helping you sit in a way that feels comfortable to you. This could mean heating the chair up or cooling it down… or even tightening the fabric near the kidneys for greater lumbar support, or relaxing the overall textile for a more hammock-like feel.


The Move also integrates a display and tray unit on the back of each seat. The display unit delivers key information, and even comes with an optional In Flight Entertainment module that can fit in its place. The tray unit combines functionalities too, serving as an emergency exit map when closed, and a fully height-adjustable tray when opened out. Right under it is a pocket to store your belongings, and the Move even comes with a sleeve to store laptops and tablets underneath the seats (between individual chairs). The laptop sleeves come made with a pressure sensitive yarn too, reminding you to collect your belongings while deboarding the plane.


Move’s design is quite a departure from the usual defensive design of economical class seating which sort of acts as a psychological reminder that the Business Class is better and more desirable. Hubert uses a beautiful gradiented fabric to make the plane’s interiors more eye-catching, feeling more like a theater and less like the waiting room at an ER. Height adjustable armrests let you go from compartmentalized to bench-style seating, and the headrests even curve inwards, providing a great pillow to rest your head against, while also allowing you to get that private, cocooned feeling. My favorite detail is the fact that they even come with the seat number embroidered/printed directly on the headrest so you’ll never find yourself struggling to locate your seat by constantly holding up your boarding pass to double check for your spot! And it does all this without altering or tinkering with the orientation or the layout of seats, but rather just upgrading the seat as a singular unit.

Designers: Benjamin Hubert (LAYER) & Airbus.

A Maker of Morning People


The latest in a history of collaborations between the designers at LAYER and tech brand nolii, the aptly named Rise lamp aims to make each day one you look forward to!

First and foremost, it works wirelessly, eliminating the need for cumbersome cords while giving users the ability to take it from room to room, wherever dimmable LED light is needed. A battery located in the base provides up to 12 hours of light time and it can even supplement power to your smartphone and other devices with an integrated USBC ports. That’ll also come in handy because you’ll be able to use your smartphone to control the light which also works in tandem with your alarm. Speaking of which, the design sports a “sunrise alarm” feature that will gently ease you into the day with a natural light progression that mimics that of the morning sun–which has been shown to improve your mood and overall outlook on life!

Designer: Benjamin Hubert of LAYER for nolii






A Fitness Tracker for Athletes


The use of technology to motivate and encourage people to increase their fitness levels through tracking, personal goals and real-time feedback is extremely popular now, and its presence has increased massively in recent years. But, what about technology that’s tailored towards more advanced athletes who require detailed feedback in specific disciplines?

Well Playr could be just the device for them; composing of three components, a smart pod, a high-performance vest and an app, it accurately tracks the athlete during training or a game. The pebble-shaped smart pod, that features a bold light strip down the centre, attaches neatly to the vest which is designed to be worn either over, or under a top and sits on top the user’s back. The compact pod then communicates with the mobile application which provides the athlete with detailed, personal feedback so they can reflect on their performance!

Designer: Benjamin Hubert of Layer Design for Catapult


PLAYR comprises a smart pod, a high performance vest, and an app. The pod is inserted into the garment, which is worn underneath or over a football jersey, and sits at the top of the athlete’s back. The pod communicates with GPS networks and the PLAYR app to track the athlete during training or a game, including distance covered, sprint distance, Pitch heat map, and player load.

PLAYR has been designed to seamlessly integrate into both training and match situations, to offer statistics to the players and teams in order to improve their game. The PLAYR pod has smart activation, and activates with magnets located inside the vest when inserted in the pocket. LEDs on the PLAYR pod communicate the GPS signal strength, battery life, and charging. When illuminated, these LEDs reveal a pattern in the reverse of the top surface of the pod to communicate the technological high performance nature of the system. The PLAYR pod is designed to be wirelessly recharged between uses on the induction charging pad.


The PLAYR garment is a high performance vest, created using advanced high performance textiles. The integrated pocket for the pod is located at the base of the neck – a position chosen due to minimum impact in competitive team sports. The pocket is padded to prevent any impact injury, and the pod is inserted into this pocket from outside the garment for ease of access to the pod.


The PLAYR app allows an athlete to track their performance, and offers a smart coach to improve the user’s game. It also allows the user to compete against friends and peers, and benchmark themselves against professional players. Providing unique performance insight, the SmartCoach system is a world first. PLAYR has handpicked the best professional football coaches and sports scientists to provide individually tailored advice on preparation, performance and recovery; the pillars for success at professional clubs. With SmartCoach insight, consumers for the first time can benchmark their match and training data against the greatest players in the world, as well as their football peers and community.

The app has been designed for ease of use, with simple, intuitive UI. The high contrast design is ideal for use outside where the app will be predominantly used on the sidelines of a pitch.







Layer’s new wearable crypto-wallet is a CMF paradise!


Aside from being a state-of-the-art piece of tech that houses your crypto-coins in an un-hackable offline device, the Trove is just refreshingly different to look at. Shaped literally like a coin, the Trove is simply secure, and its designers call it unhackable and unloseable.

Keeping your crypto-coins offline, the Coin is a physical representation of a cryptocoin, and something that you can wear on your person as a necklace or a wristband. Aside from safely storing your cryptocoins offline, it comes with a state-of-the-art ECG sensor to even take the worry of remembering passwords. Simply press your skin against the Coin and it reads your unique bio-rhythm (the rhythm at which your heart beats) to identify you from the others, eliminating the need to remember complex passwords for your crypto-wallet. With a slim Kvadrat wristband and neckband, you can wear the Coin on your person, carrying it around with you, and pairing it with your phone to use the cryptocurrency within.

Aside from the remarkable technology behind the workings of the coin, it’s more of the aesthetic that we’re wowed by. Benjamin Hubert pushed for a finish that’s virtually unseen with the “Aerated Aluminum” construction of the coin. Looking like a pristine, polished piece of pumice rock, the Coin is simply wonderful to look at and has a tactile quality that’s unmatched. It looks wonderfully ornamental on one’s person, and pairs brilliantly with the Keep, a charging platform made for the Coin. The Keep is actually made from pumice, a volcanic rock that’s known for its bubbly, aerated physical appearance. Place the Coin on the Keep and it inductively charges the wearable, while the two of them look just beautifully complementary with their perforated aesthetic. The keep even comes with a tinted acrylic case to ‘preserve’ the Coin, making it look almost like a relic.

The Trove aims at making cryptocurrency storage more secure, while effectively introducing another category to the wearable market. It also showcases a new type of aluminum production, aerated aluminum, that not only looks incredibly natural and unique but also results in lighter products that use less material too. I can’t wait to see this being used more!

Designer: Benjamin Hubert/Layer














Sit back and escape the cacophony

It’s difficult to find a quiet minute to yourself or for a one-on-one conversation in almost environment. Privacy and noise always play a factor in trying to gain some sort form of intimate escape – and odds are if you do find a quiet place to gather your thoughts, the harsh seating will make your stay brief. The Pod Chair is a charismatic solution to escaping the modern hustle and bustle of the workplace. Developed using sound dampening properties and materials, The Pod Chair provides the sensation of privacy within noisy, crowded spaces. Upon taking a seat here, the surrounding noise levels are instantly reduced, making it ideal to gain some form of concentration. Recycled from PET bottles and constructed using the felt developed by super-shredding them, this chair has its own characteristic aesthetic as well as sound dampening properties to increase the sensation of privacy within large or crowded spaces. Ideal for breakout areas in offices or residential projects, The Pod Chair can be customizable to fit seamlessly into its surrounding environment aesthetics. The design language used for this chair is warm and inviting, looking at it, it’s almost as though it reaches out to grab you and pull you right into that moment of escape.

The Pod Chair is a winner of the Red Dot Award for the year 2017.

Designers: Benjamin Hubert & DeVorm.














No Battery? No Working Cables?

Sick of scrambling through those cables in your bag? Unable to separate your charging cable from your headphones? Me too! Driven by tech user’s common difficulties with everyday smartphone accessories, nolii was born. The nolii family range of products has been designed by Benjamin Hubert of LAYER to keep you connected, wherever you are. The inaugural collection comprises five key products – Couple, Bundle, Keep, Set, Stack. Together, they form an intelligent eco-system of accessories that make your relationship with technology – and the people you connect with – effortless.

“We believe in doing more with the tools you have, so you can be more focused on the important things in life.” said Hubert, expressing the need to say goodbye to “chaotic cords” and “broken cables”. Nolii does exactly that, with it’s contemporary, minimalistic design and purposefully chosen materials which challenge conventional tech patterns.

nolii is a partnership between Benjamin Hubert, founder and director of strategic design agency LAYER, and tech and design entrepreneur Asad Hamir. Next week Hubert and Hamir will greet the world with the nolii brand and inaugural collection at the launch of Design Frontiers, bringing 30-or-so multi-disciplinary designers to Somerset House at London Design Festival.

Designers: Benjamin Hubert & Asad Hamir




A versatile smartphone case which is not only designed to showcase the phone’s original form but integrates a twist-clip for interchangeable accessories. These being – a battery with the ability to fully charge your phone – and a wallet to carry several cards when you want to travel light.


A heavy duty cable made to last. Bundle has an inbuilt loop which allows the user the option to stow away the cable in a know-like shape when not in use. The Bundle isn’t just all good looks, it’s got brains too. Bundle comes with optional USB storage, allowing the user to backup what is really important.


The ultimate – bring everywhere and anywhere – accessory. Smartphone batteries can be highly unpredictable and run out just when you least need it to. Keep has an inbuilt battery pack with a burst of power enough to bring a smartphone from 1% to 40%. With 5GB of storage and Bluetooth tracking, Keep is the accessory that keeps on giving.


It appears that traveling means bringing every cable and plug your own with you in fear of something running out of juice. Set is an all-in-one power pack designed to combat against this. Using the plug, you can charge from a mains socket. Using the battery pack, you can charge on the go. What makes this product truly wonderful, when the plug and battery are connected you can even charge your device too. No more deciding what’s more important, the phone or the portable power bank.

Stack is the ultimate charging solution for ALL of your devices – smartphone, tablet, laptop. Stack gets its name as it comprises of two batteries – a large battery and a smaller battery. The smaller battery can be separated and used for compact charging on the go. Stack, the multi-functional charging pack covers the changing needs of a busy user throughout the day.


Something Borrowed, Something New


AXYL is an all new collection from LAYER for the Allermuir brand, but it might look like something you’ve already seen before… and that’s precisely its appeal.

Its a sophisticated combination of recognizable elements and strong geometries – like the A-frame typology and Mid-Century wrap-around shell. A new twist, however, is an entirely unique Y-frame, injection moulded shell designed to envelope the user, and optional cushion.

The recycled aluminium in the Y-frame of the chairs uses just 5% of the energy required to create new aluminium and also offers significant cost savings. The chair shells, stool tops and café table tops are available in a variety of low-impact materials, including recycled wood fiber, reclaimed timber and recycled nylon, offering an efficient way of reusing waste products from the furniture industry.

Designer: Benjamin Hubert (LAYER) for Allermuir



























Good Design killed Velcro!

I think it’s safe to say it was high time Velcro died. It never had its place in fashion… it was always so tacky and noisy, and somehow I always managed to get my hair caught in it. Today, we bid farewell to the Velcro, and usher in the age of the LABB (Loopless and Buckleless Band). An edgy yet comfortable strap for the Apple Watch, the LABB’s textured design acts as the fastener, allowing it to fulfill both an aesthetic as well as a functional role with confidence.

The LABB’s design really challenges the status quo. Its intricate aesthetic grabs the eye and makes one want to constantly engage with it. Fastening the straps is as simple as a jigsaw puzzle, and when joint, looks clean and flush, with the fastening mechanism becoming virtually unrecognizable. The design relies on merging negative with positive, and requires an interaction virtually identical to that of Velcro. Each of the two bands have complementary designs that can be pressed together at any point to join, and therefore complete the design. Entirely Swiss-made, and backed by tireless R&D, the LABB’s strap material feels great to the touch. Its Swiss-engineered material is supple, odorless, waterproof, skin-friendly, and comes in five stylish color variants. You can choose between Classic Black, Brick Red, Prussian Blue, Military Green, or Timeless White.

The LABB’s anti-buckle fastening design holds great promise. Imagine having this on your shoes, or your belt, or dare I say, even on your clothes! this unusually beautiful and adaptive fastening mechanism can be engineered in various styles, suiting fashion’s ever changing needs. However for now, it holds its place firmly on your wrist, bedazzling anyone who sees it. Not to mention your hands aren’t going to get enough of playing with its incredibly inviting texture!

So say goodbye to the conventional, boring watch-strap and buckle up for a buckle-less experience!

Designer: Benjamin Hubert

Buy It Here: $47.00 $77.00















A new flavor of design


That’s the best way to sum up the design outlook of Benjamin Hubert’s human-centered design collective, Layer Design. At the crossroads of design, Layer chooses the Experience Design part but it doesn’t abandon Style. In fact, it questions Style, bring out some unusually beautiful characteristics through the usage of new materials and visions. Not restricting themselves to Industrial Design, Layer does quite a spectacular job of carrying their vision to the UI department too.

You’ll feel a lingering sense of awe at some of the designs. If not awe, you’re left with a sense of curiosity or perhaps even confusion, but all that transforms into an emotion so unforgettable, the designs by virtue of their stylistic strangeness become beautifully iconic. That’s where Layer has carved their niche, as people who create a new wave of memorable design directions. Love them or hate them, you won’t forget them; and that’s remarkable!

Designer: Layer Design (Benjamin Hubert)
















Nava Plicate Watch: Time for Pleats

This watch has a distinctive face, that looks like it was folded by an expert at origami. British designer Benjamin Hubert created this for Italian accessory maker Nava. The Plicate watch has its increments integrated as three dimensional surfaces, which definitely gives it a cool look.

plicate watch origami nava

Plicate’s display is modeled after the pleats found in folded paper fans. The strap has some interesting features as well. The underside of the strap is designed to let the air flow between the band and arm, preventing the build up of sweat. The buckle is replaced by an asymmetrical clasp, which allows users to easily remove the watch, while keeping it securely fastened.

plicate watch origami nava colors

Plicate is the second watch that Benjamin Hubert created for Nava, and it was on display during the 2012 Salone del Mobile. There’s no word yet as to where or when you can buy the Plicate watch, but you might want to keep an eye out on the Nava website.

plicate watch origami nava back

[via designboom]