Monday, July 26, 2010

Reliving the flowerpower groove at 40,000 feet (SFO 4)

Nadine Geissbühler, designer of the Airbus A340 "flower power" livery

I am a freelance graphic designer with advertising agency experience. The agency that handles SWISS’s advertising needs approached me because they were familiar with my work and knew this assignment would suit me. I was briefed on the project’s special nature and invited to submit an idea that SWISS would approve when the agency made its final presentation. I thought the idea was great but didn’t really think it would come to pass. But everything moved swiftly. All of the points were approved.

There were no major restrictions imposed on my work. At the start, I was just given the go-ahead to “go for it”. There were a few minor issues along the way, such as areas of the fuselage where no foil could be applied, and the fact that the windows had to be kept clear of course. The nose was obviously going to be a challenge because of the wind resistance. This is why the nose was painted instead of having foil attached. For technical reasons, the aircraft belly had to remain plain.

Before I actually started on the design, I thought to myself: “If I get to do this, I’ll quit after this project, pretty well at the zenith of my career.” I started by researching, getting familiar with the fonts of the “Peace and Love” era and by diving into the world of the flowerpower aesthetic. I looked at quite a few Volkswagen vans in the Internet to find out what the graphic styles of the day were like. The graphic artists of that period tended to integrate many details into their images: for example, a vehicle headlight would be made to look like the sun instead of just ignoring it altogether. This led me to the idea with the aircraft nose and the eyes, and the flowers around the windows. In the process, I had to integrate a bit of Switzerland into the image. That’s why a cow is included.

All in all, it took about a month of intense work to fully develop the project. But it’s hard to be precise about the time element because there were phases when I had to put it aside or simply wait a couple of weeks before being able to proceed. Then all of a sudden I would be working exclusively on it for whole days at a time.

Reflecting on my career to date, I can definitely say that this is the highlight so far. I have never worked on anything on such a large scale or anything quite so unusual. I was bowled over when I saw the aircraft for the first time in the hangar. That was really impressive. Now a flight to San Francisco would also be a highlight in itself. But from a professional point of view, the "flower power" livery is definitely the absolute highlight.


  1. Video can´t be seen in Germany due to content of Sony Music Entertainment!?!?!

  2. Just embarrassing :-(

  3. video can't also be seen in Russia. :(

  4. What about it is embarrassing?
    Maybe you could make yourself clear about it?

    I think it is a great design, I really like it.

    P.S. Video is working just fine.

  5. Video is still working just fine. OMG look at this ugly Airplane. Who was this Hippie, who failed to make a real Love and Peace and Happening decoration ? You just had to go and make it in San Francisco, where the real Hippies reside ... *sigh*

  6. Totally loooove this plane and the design. Been on it twice and hope to have it again on my next trip in December.
    Swiss is the best way to get to San Francisco in style ;-)