Japanese seatmaker Jamco’s Quest for Elegance seat returned to the 2023 Aircraft Interiors Expo after a four-year absence, and while the casual observer might have noticed just the attractive facelift — the light beiges of the previous version have evolved into a cooler, blues-and-greys palette — there’s much more refinement under the proverbial design hood of the seat.
After revealing an early concept at the 2019 Aircraft Interiors Expo, Jamco spent the last four years focussing on both the design and the details of the Quest concept, with last year’s show seeing only renderings of Quest. It’s not the only seat to have returned with an update, but what’s strikingly clear is that there is a strong, overarching design concept for Quest, which Jamco has retained.
Jamco’s director of product research & development and information systems John Cornell tells Runway Girl Network that, after the 2019 reveal, “we gathered a tonne of feedback — positive feedback: things the airlines would prefer to have different. During the pandemic, we had some time to work on it, so we did just that.
“Oftentimes, we’re taking the first three things that airlines are asking for, and we try to get them ready for a year later. This time, we had time to go through the entire list, develop each module of this seat to a further degree.”
Changes include the practical, like exchanging Quest’s rather James Bond-esque swing-out table mechanism for a simpler pull-back kinematic, as well as the aesthetic, with a soft suede-effect fabric replacing much of the thermoplastic.
“The seat was simplified to some degree, keeping with our mottanai philosophy,” Cornell explains, referencing the Japanese concept that — among other meanings — avoids waste through well conceived and refined design.
“But one thing that we did is we also made a list of things that we will not change, and those are the key features that make this seat competitive and differentiates the seat from other products.”
At a time where it can feel like the industry is showing a lot of seats that sometimes offer little distinction in design or function, Jamco’s approach to ensuring difference by design is certainly refreshing.
“The tilting monitor remains: that defines the seat,” Cornell says, adding “the seamless integration of the backrest into the furniture. That was also widely accepted and appreciated.”
The cradling, Z-bed kinematic remains a big plus, as does the single-element backshell, produced inhouse by Jamco, which creates a seamless, gap-free structure. The sizeable footwell — especially at the 44” pitch that Jamco itself freely acknowledges places Quest in the more premium, more longhaul end of the market — also remains.
Jamco was also showing Quest as both doored and doorless models, with the former including a standard height door structure that slides forwards from the seat shell. It was notable, though, that Jamco’s Venture seat model, next door in its booth, was showing a flexible, pull-forwards, magnetically-attached privacy screen. With clear weight, simplicity and emergency egress advantages to this “flappy door” sort of concept, and indeed with the amount of space it can save at a relatively constrained location at the passenger’s shoulder, the evolution of this element within the Jamco portfolio is one to watch.
Back to Quest, it was interesting to observe the seats on show at Jamco’s booth were the “divorce” pair of the seat’s “honeymoon/divorce” layout. One of the most impressive parts of the 2019 version of Quest was the way in which the centre “honeymoon” pairs went fully flat, with a divider retracting entirely flush with the sleeping surface.
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Featured image credited to John Walton