Flair in the Air

Stephanie Hunt sits in the propeller shaft of a private plane

A jet-setter herself, it’s only fitting that Stephanie Hunt, Principal of The Flairhunter and Volume 1 Editorial Contributor, has become a go-to interior designer for private plane interiors. Also no stranger to luxury herself (peep her Park City home featured in The Wall Street Journal), the translation from, well, grounded interiors to airline interiors would seem natural. Not quite. “It’s been an opportunity to learn more, to hone my craft,” shares Stephanie as she details the many considerations (not to mention regulations) that dictate design decisions at 10,000 feet. 

Here, we chat about her unlikely design influences (spoiler alert, it’s the FAA), what she can share about her high-profile private jet clients, and her pro travel tips. 

TSG Newport Beach: How does the design process differ when designing for interiors that, quite literally, reach the sky?
Stephanie Hunt: In one sense, it’s very similar: you want private aircraft interiors to be as (if not more so) comfortable and luxurious as the client’s residence. But there are so many more considerations and limitations to account for that force my team and I to hone our craft. 
The best comparison is yacht design. Like yacht interiors, weight limitations are a primary factor, so any stonework has honeycomb backing and millwork is veneer. Storage is also essential – passengers must store dining and lavatory items for takeoff, turbulence, and landings! The cabinetry design of private planes is super specific, tailored to each plate or wine glass. Unlike yacht interior design, however, FAA regulations are a guiding principle, dictating furniture and upholstery design. For example, while a client might request a specific armchair silhouette, it must be seatbelt-compliant and mounted solidly to the floor base. No legs on sofas! And everything, from textiles and leathers to carpeting, must be fire retardant – or at least treated to be. 

Design in collaboration with Amy Trepus and Tracy Wiggs with Diane Johnson Design.

TSG Newport Beach: What informs your aesthetic approach? 
Stephanie Hunt: The Flairhunter approach is predicated on “more is more.” I adore color and pattern. But, this doesn’t translate well into private plane interiors – and not just because of the limited space. There’s such a psychology to aircraft design! With traditional residential design, it’s important to create spaces in which clients feel comfortable. But in private planes, it is critical I create spaces that convey safety, comfort, and calm. A clean, streamlined, neutral palette feels best. 

TSG Newport Beach: How does that limitation, in turn, affect your design decisions? 
Stephanie Hunt: If I’m not working with as much color, I must be more deliberate with the details. Think: stitching details on a leather chair, a finish and profile on electronics and control panels, a wood grain and finish on the trim work.

TSG Newport Beach: Let’s talk about the “Flair in the Air” client. Or at least, what you can tell us about them… 
Stephanie Hunt: I think there’s a misperception about private jet owners. Of course, they’re in the unique financial position to prioritize privacy and luxury, but, more than that, they are individuals who understand the value of their time and, often, have extreme limits on that time. They want the luxury comforts of home – just at 10,000 feet. I spend a lot of time working on how to bring those home comforts – great bedding, comfortable sleeping arrangements, food prep and service – in-flight. 

TSG Newport Beach: You’re an avid traveler yourself. What are your airplane essentials? 
Stephanie Hunt: I love being on a plane, it’s like suspended reality! That said, you’ll always find me with Bose noise-canceling headphones, about four different books on Audible, my Laneige Lip Mask, Lumify Eye Drops, a notepad and pen for journaling and list-making, reading glasses, and a big cozy wrap to use as a blanket if it’s too cold. I also like wearing a baseball or bucket hat for a bit of extra privacy. Oh! And good old design magazines because it seems like the only time I can dig into them is on planes. 

TSG Newport Beach: Where are you off to next? 
Stephanie Hunt: Per usual, I have a packed travel schedule! I just returned from a sourcing trip in Guadalajara and am off to Cabo to complete a residential project and will travel between Utah, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara quite a bit. I’m most excited about a trip to Hamburg and Geneva. It’s an international business jet industry event. We’re presenting a concept jet in collaboration with a European design firm and Aloft Aeroarchitects. A major pinch-me project! 

To learn more about working with our Volume 1 Editorial Contributor Stephanie Hunt and her design firm, reach out via email at [email protected]. Don’t forget to follow along for travel and design inspiration, and tell her Scout sent you! 

Images feature design in collaboration with Amy Trepus and Tracy Wiggs with Diane Johnson Design.