You land from a cross-continental flight. Your back aches. You’re parched from the dry air. It’s hard enough to give a PowerPoint presentation in this condition, but you happen to be a pro athlete. And in a few hours, you’re playing the deciding game in your playoff run.
Home field advantage is a very real thing, and the opposing team’s jet lag is a chief contributor. In response, the cross-discipline design firm Teague teamed with Nike to conceptualize this production-ready plane cabin for athletes of the future–not just a posh chartered jet like most teams use today, but a true “mobile away facility” that could tend to players nursing their injuries, track advanced biometrics like hydration levels, and just offer a decent bit of sleep to help stave off jet lag.
For Teague, the project allowed them the chance to think beyond the highly restrictive limitations of the commercial aviation industry they design for so often. The resulting concept barely resembles any plane you know. It’s half hotel, half medical spa. Players enter to a relaxed, dark room, in which they can sit in a chair and assess their injuries on a screen. They make their way forward in the cabin and to a kitchenette to eat. Then they reach the plane’s heart–the Recovery Room, which allows injured athletes to lie back for a massage, hot/cold therapy, electro-stimulation, and more.
At this point, players can find their seat–which have been designed to fully recline for a seven-foot-tall athlete. They sleep under a clear half-shell frame, a sort of transparent sleeping cubicle that keeps them from rolling over and snoring in each other’s faces. Players who’d like to sleep with hot or cold compression sleeves can plug these accessories into their pods.
For players who’d prefer not to sleep, they can make their way down to the lower part of the plane to find a social space, a veneered den with cafe tables and benches that double as beds. Everything about this plane is designed to lull a player to sleep, or at least, to relax their body as much as possible.
All of that horizontal space comes at a cost. While Teague’s concept might be great for the 15 players on an NBA team, it wouldn’t necessarily scale up for the 53 burly gladiators that make up any team in the NFL. That said, Teague believes there are lessons here that could be folded back into their aviation work the pro athletic circuit–namely rethinking the way aging populations and the military travel.