Aircraft parts are discovering a new life as a stylish interior offering writes AWERO AMOLE.
Imagine sitting in your living room or lounging on a sofa and you are served by your cook in an airport trolley instead of a butler’s tray? That is just what is happening in the world of furniture as interior designers are turning scraps of aeroplanes to exquisite pieces of furniture.
Interestingly, there are people from around the world with a niche interest in the decorative potential in everything from original aircraft parts to beautifully made display models. Things that may be termed useless are finding usefulness in homes of aviation aficionados across the globe. The aesthetics of these decorative aeroplane parts have attracted all sorts of buyers, who are not necessarily people who have an involvement with aviation.
Indeed, much defunct aeronautical is now finding a new lease of life in some of the world’s most stylish interiors after being deftly converted for domestic use as attractive and often highly functional furniture.
The UK-based auction house, Christie’s once sold a pair of occasional tables with calamander-wood tops set on 60cm-high steel missile tails for £2,375, together with a Rocket desk with legs made from similar, chrome-plated components for £4,000.
Besides, these items are regarded as unique and magnificent sterling-silver scale models of aircraft with stories behind them.
Another of such is a Lancaster Bomber commissioned from Garrard in 1987 by King Hussein of Jordan as a gift for his chauffeur, Joe Paine. Also is a miniature £12,000 silver-gilt and a rock-crystal replica of Concorde that was presented to Queen Juliana of the Netherlands on the supersonic airliner’s inaugural flight.
“People are more likely to buy these objects simply because they appreciate the aesthetics and realise that they make exciting features. The bigger pieces are especially well suited to large drawing rooms or loft apartments.”
Another of the chic piece made from Aeronautica scrap is the highly polished, aluminium tailplane of a 1950s Douglas Dakota. It has been converted into a stylish desk acquired by Nick English, who founded the luxury aviator-watch brand, Bremont, together with his brother Giles. The piece adorns his Henley-on-Thames office in the UK. He has been flying historic aircraft since he was a schoolboy and collecting Aeronautica for almost as long.
Often collectors who are mostly aircraft owners, start by hoarding bits of old aircraft that they had owned. Along the line, some of them realised they had decorative potential.
Highly varnished wooden propellors with some history attached, for example, are stunning pieces of art when they are seen up close, and they look lovely when displayed on a wall. And so, with a little bit of attention, many aircraft parts could be made into beautiful objects, yet they are often ignored. For example, a radial aircraft engine can be used as a base for a coffee table or mirror — likewise, a propellor or the turbine blades of a Boeing 747. When something is seen in a different context and redesigned, it becomes a new piece of art.
Turning these old components into irresistible pieces of art could be time-consuming. For instance, an ejection seat could take at least 100 hours of work to turn it from a decommissioned object into something attractive to look.
Typically, there are Hatchwell has developed there are networks of sellers and buyers of these components around the world. Most of them arrive in the unattractive state in which since they are last used commercially. Then begins the task of carefully removing the paint and excess parts before, where appropriate, before polishing the object to a high lustre.
A sizeable chunk of the fuselage, after stripping back the paint and discreetly incorporating brackets, switches and electrical wiring, this piece of Aeronautica becomes an attractive light that appears to be floating several inches off the wall.
Furthermore, the investment value of these objects makes them desirable. Their prices often increase at auctions over the years.