Airport terminals designed by major architects such as Renzo Piano (Kansai International Airport) or Richard Rogers (London Heathrow Terminal 5) require high quality seating to match the general quality of their interiors.
Fire safety is a significant consideration at airports. Regulations now govern the contents of airport terminals and this affects the choice of materials used for the seating. Werner Sobek designed the airport chair Expression using only aluminium in a simple form.
Recent firms and designers involved in the highly lucrative and competitive business include Porsche, Vitra, Sir Norman Foster, and Alberto Meda.
Business travellers commonly wish to use laptop computers while waiting and so seating for them may incorporate a charging point and a form of desk.
Robert Sommer studied the design of airport seating and concluded that the arrangement of chairs in rigid lines bolted to the floor was deliberately sociofugal — discouraging social interaction such as conversation and encouraging the sitters to go to commercial locations such as shops and cafes. The provision of arms on the chairs increased the usage of the chairs, as compared with bench seats without arms. Strangers are more comfortable sitting adjacent each other if there is an arm to mark their personal space. The parallel orientation of the modular seat units also minimises face-to-face contact and this is less threatening for strangers.
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