Into the Wild: Muirhead's interior design inspirations

Unveiling Muirhead’s 2023 design inspirations for aircraft interiors 

By Debra Choong, Design Manager at Muirhead and Scottish Leather Group

Design is more than just aesthetics; it’s about creating unique and relevant experiences that leave a lasting impression.  

That’s why our in-house design experts at Muirhead work closely with airline product development teams and CMF Design Houses to co-create the perfect leather for their needs and the needs of their customers. With full control of the process from natural raw material sourcing to finished product, we pride ourselves on being able to create bespoke products that perfectly complement and elevate our customers’ brands.  

But while some already have a clear design concept in mind, others seek guidance to find the colours, materials, and textures that best fit their brand ethos and respond to the fast-changing needs of their passengers.  

At Muirhead, we see design as a two-way process and take it upon ourselves to offer first-class insight and design expertise to help our customers stay ahead of the curve.  

We constantly monitor, analyse, and interpret the latest and most influential design trends in aviation and beyond. We attend global industry trade shows and exhibitions, including Aircraft Interiors Expo and the Aircraft Cabin Innovation Summit in Hamburg, to draw CMF inspiration from cross-industry material and fashion developments.  

Our in-house product design team has travelled around the world, visiting design, fashion, and material trend shows from Paris, through Eindhoven, to Las Vegas. They were reassured that end-users and designers are becoming much more involved and interested in the entire supply chain and where raw materials come from. 

Colours, textures, and materials are still important. Still, many are now also recognising the importance of the manufacturing process from a design perspective – along with its effect on the environment and other industries, on the reusability and longevity of the product, and on waste generation.  

Trends change quickly, so staying on top of them is no small feat. However, by bringing fresh ideas and contemporary design concepts to the table, we can ensure our customers’ bespoke leather products are unique, stylish, and future-proof.  

To further inspire, challenge, and excite them, we regularly develop our own design directions – our distinctive response to the prevailing design trends in the industry.  

In 2023, we’ve observed the growing importance of biophilic design principles that showcase the connection between nature and human well-being. As expected, sustainability and technology remain high on the aviation agenda too.  

To put these trends into context, we’ve created our very own conceptual collection, ‘ReWILDing’, which blends contemporary ideas such as biophilic design with inspiration from our own surroundings: our Scottish provenance and our unwavering commitment to sustainability and circularity.  

Firstly, we draw inspiration from Scotland’s epic landscapes and pristine wilderness, which we’re proud to call home. Secondly, we’ve pioneered circular leather manufacturing by recovering energy and by-products from process waste and end-of-life leather. So it’s no surprise that advocating for sustainability and the use of long-lasting, reusable materials continues to underpin our design approach this year.  

At its core, ReWILDing is about restoring natural ecosystems by reintroducing native species. This Neo-Nature based design movement represents a new interpretation of nature-inspired products that responds to the challenges of the 21st century. It reflects the growing desire to incorporate natural light, living plants, and natural textures to create environments that promote physical and emotional well-being.  

To bring the ReWILDing theme to life, we’ve further distilled it into three distinct but connected design directions.  

Mountains and Moorlands: healing harmony 

Our Mountains and Moorlands design direction evokes a sense of relaxation and offers an escape from the every day by blending reality with the imaginary. It features romantic undertones conveyed through a hazy colour palette of ethereal hues and pigments to evoke a fantasy-driven atmosphere.  

This holistic approach informs the design of restorative environments, promoting healing, connection, and creativity. In a world where health and well-being are paramount, Mountains and Moorlands places an emphasis on physical and emotional well-being. It encourages us to incorporate natural light, living plants, and natural textures. Meanwhile, the delicate and dreamy hues help us unwind and embrace a slower pace of life. 

Wetlands: earthy elegance

This design direction draws inspiration from the principles of biomimicry to create designs that are both pragmatic and resilient. It tells a story of balance and contrast by blending traditional with modern, rustic with technical, and pragmatism with escapism.  

Its earthly, grounded tones evoke an earth-bound narrative. It neatly captures the growing interest in natural products and highlights the traditional craft of upcycling rawhides – a natural by-product of the food industry – into aesthetic and durable materials.  

The Wetlands design direction also advocates that designs should be in harmony with the environment. It blends organic systems and processes to place the natural world at the focus. The earthy browns and greens evoke a sense of calm and connection to nature, while the use of natural textures like wood, stone, and woven fabrics allows us to add depth and dimension to designs. Meanwhile, the raw and rustic textures create a feeling of established, peaty landscapes.  

But despite its focus on the natural world, Wetlands also exudes luxury through its minimalist aesthetic. By fusing rustic textures and earthy tones with high-end design elements, this approach creates a sophisticated and elegant look that is always in tune with nature. 

Grasslands: bold and sustainable  

In a world of impending climate change, population growth and urbanisation, we search for new ways to connect with nature. The Grasslands direction responds to this need, by blending natural textures and colours with technological innovations to create products that are both aesthetically pleasing and sustainable.  

Grasslands draws inspiration from the weird and wonderful aspects of nature, both its oddities and ingenuity. The mood is lively and bold, embracing change and transformation, while the use of natural hues promotes a sense of grounding and connection to the environment. With a highly energised palette and dynamic contrast, its saturated hues feature added complexity – suggesting the effects of age, wear, and transformation through time.  

A sense of rejuvenation underpins this approach, encouraging the repair and refurbishment of existing materials. The nuanced brights represent recycled and reclaimed materials, challenging the waste culture. By combining natural elements and cutting-edge technology, we aim to create products with the least possible environmental impact.  

As we champion the importance of a meaningful connection between nature and well-being, it’s clear that crafting beautiful aircraft interiors involves much more than just aesthetics.  

We should strive to create spaces that promote sustainability, leverage technology, and integrate biophilic design principles. By blending these together, we can design high performance leather products that not only look beautiful but also stand the test of time.  

At Muirhead, we believe that design expertise and a deep understanding of industry trends are crucial in crafting bespoke leather products for our valued customers. This is why we keep a close eye on the latest developments across a variety of sectors and merge them with inspiration from the world around us, helping airlines and manufacturers stay ahead of the game each year.  

Contact us for instant access to the latest news about our sustainability, design, and product innovations.