Meet Emilie Harbor, Lead Designer for Paint and Interior at West Star Aviation, a company that designs and updates your aircraft with extensive material selections and an uncompromising attention to detail.
Briefly describe your work…
I oversee both our East Alton, IL facility as well as our new Chattanooga, TN facility which opened in March. Being the lead designer, I interact first hand with all of our customers and customer representatives (DOMS, Pilots, etc.) and create design schemes for them based off of their taste and requests. Sometimes, our customers know exactly what they want and other times, they rely on me to create an interior that I feel is “up and coming”. The same can be said for designing paint schemes. A lot of times, our customers have an idea in mind, but I help them expand on their ideas and maybe take it in a direction they didn’t envision initially.
Why do you love your work?
I love my work because it’s always something new and different. There is no cookie cutter interior or paint scheme in this industry. It all requires thought, time and innovative ideas to design a plane today. And as I mentioned earlier, when customers are unsure of what they want, they rely on me to create a plane for them that emulates the future while still remaining classic and timeless as the years go on.
What inspires you?
I’d say what inspires me is the gratitude and compliments that I receive from my customers when the job is said and done. It helps reinforce a sense of accomplishment and job well done in my mind that only inspires me to do just as well on the next job. I personally want every job to go flawlessly. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t, but when a plane that I designed several years ago still stops people and makes them comment on the beautiful interior, that’s when I know we at West Star made a huge impact and did a great job.
Do you see an emerging aviation trend in the industry?
The trend I see emerging most often, is creating an interior environment that is very modern yet, “organic”. In order to obtain this trait, I start by utilizing a color palette of earth tones likes taupe’s and grays. From there, it’s all about clean lines and simplifying the cabin as best possible. This includes seat designs that are streamlined and not so puffy and soft, like we’ve seen in the past. For today’s aviation society, the goal is creating an interior on an aircraft that makes it possible to conduct business like an office setting.
Where is your favorite place to use leather on a jet?
I think leather is best showcased by the cabin seats. This is where you really get a feel for how great of a product , leather truly is. The way it contours around the arms and envelops around the foam work creates a look that is undeniably clean and flawless. Here at WSA, our seat upholsters and technicians are by far some of the most talented craftsmen I know. Upon entering a cabin, one of the first things everyone looks at are the seats because, essentially, that’s what you’re going to end up sitting in before take off. That being said, it’s imperative that the leather is of upstanding quality in order to achieve a look that is worth being seen in these multi-million dollar planes.
What is your favorite era of aviation?
Charles Lindbergh, Spirit of St Louis. His tenacity and bravery to fly a plane without any form of safety measure other than him simply “knowing” it would work, is amazing to me.
Where is your favorite place in the world to travel?
Anywhere with a thriving city and beach.
What is your travel must-have?
My cell phone, by far! And now with, “Text and Talk,” utilizing my cell phone while in the air is possible.
What do you pack in your carry-on?
My kindle. Unlike many of my customers who want to be able to access work while flying, I prefer to leave the world behind for a bit and dive into a good book.
Tell us about your dream jet?
My dream jet would be a Falcon 7X. It would have an earth tone/gray interior with a dark stained veneer and satin nickel plating. The seats would have flex wing headrests, as well as leg rests. All of the bulkheads would be veneered with recessed 22″ monitors and I’d have the newest LED lighting installed throughout.
What is one thing from the ground that you wish you had in the air?
I honestly can’t think of anything. I pretty much have everything I need with me.
View some of Emilie’s most recent work here:
To browse Moore & Giles’ selection of aviation leathers click here.