Here on Flightess, I endeavor to consistently be creating content that is new and interesting to the Corporate Flight Attendant community. We’ve had multiple Q&A’s with fascinating people that play a role in the world of luxury hospitality and I am so excited to introduce this boss woman who has started her own aviation design consultancy under her namesake.
Meet Autumn Duntz, founder and CEO of Autumn Elizabeth Design. She was kind enough to answer some of my questions and share some industry insight that you’re going to love reading. Although I have to admit, it was hard to not bombard her with questions as I am low-key obsessed with Aviation Designers.
To me, they are the ultimate creators and artists of “Form meets Function“, as every single component of a private jet has been chosen with a significant amount of discretion and research, there is simply no room for thoughtless excess on these million dollar birds.
so without further ado, brew your coffee, pour your wine, and let’s chat with Autumn—
Q: Okay tell us about how you found yourself in this crazy niche industry?
A: I went to Florida State University for interior design, and every student was required to complete an internship. I knew I wanted to specialize in either yachts or aviation, so I applied for a summer internship at Gulfstream. I was accepted and loved every minute of that summer! I was hooked and knew I found my dream career as an aviation interior designer.
Q: What is your favorite part about your job?
A: It’s definitely creating a transformation for the customer. They put a lot of trust in you to create a design that is a reflection of their brand or personal style, so when they get to see the new aircraft interior for the first time, it’s always really exciting! Who doesn’t love a good before and after?
Q: What are some projects you are most proud to have designed and why?
A: I helped an owner with a GV refurbishment that was really rewarding. It was a completely new interior with upgraded avionics and the works. The owner had some issues with his mobility, and we were able to make him a custom chair that had additional lumbar support and specific foam shaping to make sure he was able to stay comfortable during the flight. Most everything in the cabin was modified to ensure he could move around easier. It’s things like this that make me proud—knowing I can help make a difference in my customer’s lives—even if it seems small.
“Autumn’s design talents and her product knowledge are a perfect combination to support any aircraft refurbishment. She is very easy to work with and has that special ability to create an interesting interior in the limited space of an aircraft. We are very proud to fly in our GV. ”— ABS, GV OWNER
Q: Where do you draw inspiration from?
A: It may sound cliché, but nature is my go-to source for inspiration. No one can put together color combinations like mother nature! When I’m exploring new places, I always try to take a few pictures of beautiful colors, textures, or interesting shapes to translate into the interiors or paint design. I’ve also found if I ever get stuck when I’m designing, a nice walk outside usually helps!
Q:What is the craziest request you’ve ever been asked to accommodate or design?
A: I had a customer who wanted to cover all the surfaces that are typically veneer (the tables, cabinets, bulkheads, etc.) with brushed aluminum. It took a lot of time to find the supplier and a lot of R&D with the shops on how to execute it. They didn’t end up doing the refurbishment, but it would have been a very unusual interior!
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges or obstacles of being an aviation interior designer that most people wouldn’t think about?
A: The most difficult part is selecting the right materials to support how the customer is going to use their aircraft. I’ve always seen it as my job to help the owner not only have a beautiful interior but one that has longevity and maintainability. I can’t tell you how many directors of maintenance have discreetly thanked me for helping the owner select an interior that wasn’t a nightmare to maintain or clean. It’s the balance of creating a unique, bespoke interior and one that’s suitable for an aircraft.
Q: How does the aircraft owner’s flight attendant or pilot play a role in the design refurbishment process?
In my design process, there’s a lot of attention and time devoted to understanding what the customer’s priorities are and how a customer uses their aircraft. I’ve always found that the pilots and flight attendants have so much insight into the customer’s behaviors and preferences, many that the owner themselves aren’t even aware of! Customers also aren’t usually able to spend a lot of time on every nuance of the design, so connecting with the aircraft’s crew helps provide me with all the additional details to make the design a perfect fit. Ultimately, if I can help design an interior that functions well for the crew and the owner, then that’s the best scenario!
Follow along with Autumn on Instagram, LinkedIn, and be sure to check out her amazing website!