Hot Wings

The sky’s the limit when it comes to Happy De­sign Stu­dio’s cus­tom-painted air­craft.


French-based Happy De­sign Stu­dio is tak­ing art to a whole new level – lit­er­ally. The com­pany cre­ates unique air­craft liv­er­ies for pri­vate and cor­po­rate own­ers who want the out­side of their air­craft to be as per­son­alised as their cars, homes or of­fices. The idea took off when the com­pany’s founder Di­dier Wolff, a for­mally trained artist, got his pi­lot li­cense in 1998. “I still visit the Lou­vre at least once a year to read­just my per­cep­tion,” he points out. The com­pany’s dis­tinc­tive projects rep­re­sent a de­par­ture from the usu­ally con­ser­va­tive spirit of the aero­nau­ti­cal in­dus­try, and are def­i­nite at­ten­tion­grab­bers on pri­vate run­ways thanks to Wolff’s heavy use of colour and un­re­strained creativ­ity. “White is not a paint op­tion for a jet but the painter’s can­vas on which a spe­cific tem­per will be trans­lated,” he ex­plains, be­fore adding that his work – al­beit un­in­ten­tion­ally – makes other jets look naked. Wolff re­cently com­pleted an F-16 for the 100th an­niver­sary of the First Squadron Stingers of the Bel­gian Air Force Dis­play Team and a Bom­bardier Global Ex­press XRS, which was painted to match a car­bon-grey Bent­ley. “The aim was to cre­ate a de­sign to ease the tran­si­tion be­tween the two worlds. The de­sign and the con­cept had to be very mas­cu­line and had to trans­late a spirit of finely-tuned lux­ury,” Wolff says. De­cid­edly set on push­ing bound­aries even fur­ther, Wolff has re­pro­duced a large-scale graf­fiti mu­ral, which a client found in the UK and pur­chased for his Sin­ga­pore of­fice. “I can’t wait to adapt it and have it painted on his next air­craft,” he ad­mits. That, and per­haps an air­craft owned by a woman. “Be­cause an air­craft is not just a se­ries of math­e­mat­i­cal equa­tions. It is a dream, the sum of au­dac­ity and bold­ness for those who have reached for the sky to ac­com­plish a dream, with style and ego.”

Right: In this in­stance, Happy De­sign Studios were in­spired by the table­ware found in­side an air­craft and painted the ex­te­rior to fol­low suit. Ex­tract­ing the im­age into five lines of colour, a se­ries of 150 ver­ti­cal stripes were painted over the en­tire...

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