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How can you design tableware for airline meals that fits perfectly into its environs, serves an eco-friendly purpose, and is damn fun all at the same time? Air France, with deft execution by designer Eugeni Quitllet, has done it.

Eco-sensibilities in aviation have now evolved from a focus on new biofuels and winglets down into the design of knives, forks, spoons and other tableware.

Air France passengers in Economy and Premium Economy starting in September began dining with sleek, eco-friendly tableware crafted by Catalan designer Eugeni Quitllet in cooperation with French manufacturer IPI.

For a look at the new tableware, as well as the sketches used in the design process, take a look at the gallery above. All of the images are courtesy of Eugeni Quitllet and Air France.

As you can readily see, airline tableware has come a long way since the vintage airline spoons of the last century.

The newly designed Air France tableware is all about the carrier’s “move upmarket,” as the airline puts it, with various changes made in Economy and Premium Economy in 2013, including more legroom and ergonomically designed seats and cushions, with further improvements to Business and La Premiere classes slated for 2014.

The thoughtful and whimsical design of the Eugeni Quitllet tableware, including knives, forks, spoons, cups, bowls, plates and trays, called for “injecting air from the sky,” as one of the design sketches framed it, into the final product. In other words, slots in the cutlery enable passengers to insert wings into them so they can transform them into model aircraft of sorts.

Perhaps that will keep potentially rambunctious kids and easily bored adult passengers occupied for awhile.

Quitlett explains that he was charged with delivering a design driven by reusable materials, and sought “a pure and minimalist airline feel,” as if passengers were going to dinner with Air France.

The designer claims that Air France’s carbon emissions from the manufacture and use of the new tableware were reduced by 30% compared with the carbon output tied to the previous dinner utensils.

The aim was to offer a contemporary design using lighter materials while delivering novelty items to accompany the cuisine.

Air France serves 14 million meals annually so lighter tableware can reduce carbon emissions in the manufacturing process, and impact aircraft fuel burn.

Some 1,000 “hostesses and stewardesses” tested the new tableware, as did 2,500 consumers, the designer says.

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Tags: air france, in-flight

Photo credit: Air France's new tableware in Economy and Premium Economy has slots in the knives, forks and spoons that enable passengers to turn them into replica airplanes. These will turn into instant souvenirs.

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