“They know that I do not do ‘beige,’” says British interior designer Celia Sawyer, when asked if clients enlist her for a particular style. “It is not my ethos. I want to stand outside of the box and create interiors that move concepts forward.” Glamour is her beat—layered, sumptuous spaces that treat decoration like a high virtue and are defined by her good instincts for welcoming indulgence or politely switching it to low-power mode.
An innate instinct for reading clients guided her work for the owner of this Airbus A340, who wanted “a stylish ‘residence in the sky’ for himself and his family, with spacious, private areas and all the options to entertain business guests while traveling around the world,” according to Sawyer. Having previously collaborated with the client, a royal from the Middle East, she found a natural groove. Still, this was her largest private aircraft to date. “The last thing I wanted was a garish interior or something too bland. His brief was that it had to have the ‘wow factor.’”
She answered with unflinching originality, employing a fearless volt of blue, golden verve, and a corps of specialty artisans ready to ride shotgun on this supersonic decorative escapade. In the salon and lounge areas, a series of individual, gold-plated sections trace the curvature of the aircraft, giving confident depth to the interior. Sawyer balanced these elements with linear furniture dressed in hand-stitched Tuscan leather, superlative silks, and a touch of velvet. The bar is illuminated from beneath, while two crystal chandeliers with 24-karat-gold accents emit an aureate glow. The center tables are veneered, which was a pragmatic solution, as weight—like safety, shock-proofing, and fire prevention—is a constant consideration aboard an aircraft.
The salon and lounge’s cooler alter ego emerges in the master suite, where the designer’s signature palette envelopes the space. The hand-stitched leather headboard is flanked by bespoke bedside crystal fixtures, which were specially constructed to prevent any swing during flight. The main bathroom has a Swarovski-crystal-and-glass washbasin, while the master bath features midnight-blue marble and an integrated mirror-faced television, fulfilling the client’s wish for electronic amenities.
The project is a glossy, glamorous trip into the experiential. The interior gives the impression of a hotel or restaurant that has outlived Soho House’s relaxed leather earnestness and opted for a little sizzle. Perhaps the highest compliment to be paid this space is that it does not resemble a private plane at all—a point that establishes Sawyer, whose design career has spanned more than two decades, as an accomplished luxury rebel. “I am working with the Royal Navy now, designing the Officers’ Mess on their warship HMS Queen Elizabeth. [The dining hall] has the old-fashioned ‘always-been-done’ look, and I am keen to change history on this.”