The most beautiful piece of furniture at the National Business Aviation Association’s recent Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition show was an executive desk (above)—referred to as a “monument” in airplane parlance—from Bomhoff Limited in Tucson, Arizona. Built on a subtly curved composite frame, it had a quarter-sawn American-walnut veneer with five coats of proprietary finish as well as leather-lined drawers and hidden door tracks on the sides.
“The details are what I really enjoy about this work,” says Russ Bomhoff, whose family has been crafting aircraft interiors for three generations. He launched the firm last October to focus on bespoke jet furniture. “On a Rolls-Royce, the interior’s all about the curves. Even on a $90 million jet, where the interior costs a million, you typically get a cookie-cutter floor plan that’s all straight lines. We started this business to give owners a clean slate.”
Aircraft furniture is far more complicated than home or even yacht decor. Weight, down to the ounce, is critical, as are strength, stability and the precise fit necessary for a pre-configured cabin. Each piece must also comply with the FAA’s Federal Aviation Regulations regarding structural integrity and flammability. “It’s a labor-intensive, expensive process,” Bomhoff says. “Even latches have to be FAA-certified to meet specific load requirements, unlike typical furniture hardware.”
The 1,000-plus man-hours needed to build the desk are reflected in the $150,000 price tag, as is the FAA certification. That’s about a third more expensive than the company’s less-specialized residential version.
In addition to a woodworking shop, Bomhoff’s Tucson facility has a CNC router, composite oven, industrial sewing machines, metalworking shop, laser cutter and paint booth. “Without the technology, it would take us twice the time,” Bomhoff says. “But when you’re dealing with inlays only a few hundredths of an inch long, you need someone with a pair of tweezers working many hours.”