The future of train station furniture and shaping the passenger experience
Green Furniture Concept’s Founder, Johan Berhin, discusses the future of train station furniture and how it can help to shape the passenger experience and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Credit: Green Furniture Concept
How must train station furniture evolve to enhance the travel experience of the future?
The world is changing ever faster. The pandemic has pushed this, but the journey of change has still just begun. Stations need to be flexible, furniture needs to be modular and business models need to be circular to be able to shift to the next level when it comes – whether that is Hyperloop docking at the station or self-driving cars.
Passenger satisfaction has already been set as the number one target and performance indicator by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) – the Dutch rail operator. Moreover, it is the key driver for a larger shift to rail, and the key to more business in and around the stations.
The travel experience is not something that can be added on the side anymore, in the style of ‘let’s choose purple seats’. Railways are in the experience industry now, and wowed passengers are more satisfied, more loyal and more receptive. The furniture companies that can step up to this, in an efficient and ready to roll out way, will be the ones that get the orders from the networks.
What role can train station furniture play in the battle against the spread of COVID-19?
Obviously, furniture needs to be sanitisable, in an efficient way. But not everyone knows that wood is also naturally antiseptic – think of wooden chopping boards. And that this effect can be either closed off, with varnish or paint, or strengthened with wax as a surface treatment.
Having a seamless seating line also answers well to the current need for distancing, where the right distance between travelling entities can be taken while families can sit close together, seamlessly adjusting to regulations and passenger load.
Using natural materials and natural shapes may also be the strongest way of building a nice environment in the stations, and a feeling of safety, for the recovery after the pandemic. Creating a welcoming feeling and giving a place to breathe and to feel that things are OK again.
Can train station furniture contribute to the rail industry’s ambition to become more sustainable?
The station is the shop window to the most sustainable means of travel. And station furniture is like the clothes in that window. So, dress up the station smartly and clearly sustainably, using natural materials and natural shapes. People that actively have chosen the train instead of the car or plane should feel that they are taken seriously in this decision, and that rail is the right choice.
Johan Berhin is the Founder of Green Furniture Concept. He is the designer behind the Nova C series that you can find in public places all over the world. He has an engineering and industrial background and got his design education at the TU Delft in Holland, and at Domus Academy in Milano. His industrial experience has given him a good knowledge of manufacturing and has fed a need to make things better – to find ways of manufacturing closer to nature.