First, they asked Los Angeles–based street artist Retna to hand-paint the tail of a Bombardier Global Express. Then, along with fine jeweller Fabergé, VistaJet commissioned Turner Prize–nominated artist Ian Davenport to design the tail of one of its new flagship planes: the Bombardier Global 6000. The inflight staff sport Moncler jackets and uniforms designed by Giancarlo Petriglia, former artistic director of Trussardi. And coming up this summer: what’s sure to be an entertaining inflight safety video made by contemporary artist Tom Sachs. Meet VistaJet, the private luxury aviation company whose innovative collaborations with some of the world’s top artists and designers are changing the face of private air travel.
The entire VistaJet fleet—currently totalling more than 35 aircraft—is available to all clients, with guaranteed availability (within 24 hours’ notice) for travel anywhere in the world. This bespoke lifestyle, combined with service and safety, seems to be working: the Switzerland-based carrier, helmed by founder and chairman Thomas Flohr, has earned the distinction of being the largest wholly owned private aviation company outside of the Americas. In 2012, the airline carried 25,000 passengers on 10,000 single international flights. In addition, VistaJet has ordered 56 new Bombardier Global aircraft, for delivery beginning next year. (With a price tag of more than $7.8 billion, the order is the largest single-transaction order placed with any aircraft manufacturer in the history of business aviation.)
“Our customers around the world check into the best hotels, shop in the best shops, dine at the best restaurants,” says VistaJet creative director Nina Flohr (daughter of founder Thomas Flohr) about her inspiration for these projects. VistaJet’s creative collaborations are very much a passion, “and I’m very proud to say there’s not a predetermined strategy.” Flohr’s first creative VistaJet commission, three years ago, was photographer Francesco Carrozzini. “I was frustrated with the pre-existing imagery of the aviation world and how planes were portrayed, so I commissioned him and I said, ‘Listen, Francesco, photograph these planes like they are a piece of art. Make the photographs abstract, make them glamorous, make them elegant, make them something that people want to stop and look at—don’t make them corporate.’ That marked quite a significant stone in our industry because no one had really done that before.”
As for the Tom Sachs safety video, details are still under wraps. “What I can mention,” says Flohr, “is it was more about how can we go about this in a unique way that would be interesting for our clients—creative rather than corporate. So we took a lot of time and work to do something that’s different.” As for the Retna plane, it’s still flying. “There’s a novelty to it; it makes people smile,” says Flohr. “I think that’s kind of what we’re trying to do with everything that’s creative.”