Project Name: Standard Bank Airport Lounge: The Library

Date Completed: December 2016

Interior Designer: Callie van der Merwe

Interior Stylist: Yatish Narsi and Callie van der Merwe

Travel is a key lifestyle experience in the lives of Standard Bank’s Private Banking customers and outsourcing this experience to a third-party lounge operator dilutes the Private banking experience into one that is mass and mediocre. This is the key reason Standard Bank South Africa has designed and built three of its own airport lounges at OR Tambo International airport in Johannesburg. Each lounge is different both from a design point of view as well as the desired customer experience. Standard Bank wanted to create the sense of calm that you get at the New York Public Library amidst the rush and chaos of New York City. Making the African airport experience premium again by designing an airport lounge based at OR Tambo International Airport. To create a tangible experience that demonstrates the forward thinking, innovative and premium ‘African-ness’ of Standard Bank. Break the convention of a traditional ‘airport lounge’ and move to develop a range of aesthetic experiences, connecting the various parts of real estate in the airport, that will make the experience of travelling premium again.

Flying has become incredibly ubiquitous, and thus has traded utility for delight. The experience is efficient, geared to volume and has lost its sense of the individual. Gates, seat allocations, parking levels and the like, every touch point has reduced travellers to a number. The success of a Domestic Lounge will be to re-introduce a sense of belonging/humanity to an otherwise processed efficiency over humanity space. Standard Bank cannot control large portions of the experience for obvious reasons, but the right interventions, timed and placed correctly can make their customers feel ‘special’ and taken of care of. Thinking outside the confines of the given sites will allow them the latitude and freedom of thought to propose interventions that are ‘timed’ and placed perfectly.

The Library is the lounge experience created on the far and quiet side of the domestic airside terminal, so it is a little bit of a walk for passengers to get to. In a world consumed by an ever-increasing digital pace, the Library lounge is a throwback to a slower tangible time. To this end, the thinking was to combine a best in class library and art gallery with bespoke food, wine, and whiskey experience. The Library hosts a collection of rare, first edition and other curated reads. This is operating as a full-service library with check in/out options. This design outcome is the result of a perfect combination of designer, client, supplier partnership where a great deal of time and effort was dedicated to defining and solving the exact client and end-user needs. Asking the right questions and solving the right problems.