Designer in Profile: Tim Fagan, Industrial Design Manager for Bombardier Business Aircraft

Name: Tim Fagan

Company: Bombardier Business Aircraft

Position within company: Industrial Design Manager for Bombardier Business Aircraft



Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)

 I hold Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.  My first professional design experience was in technology and consumer products, and user-interface design – back in the early days of the internet.  I joined the aerospace field first in commercial aircraft – the focus was on the design of modular aircraft interior systems – this created a strong technical base which remains very important in my current work.

I was very interested in business aviation because of both the luxury and personalization element – each aircraft being tailored to a specific customer’s need and taste.  I worked as industrial designer on special design projects such as flight deck design, before shifting to business jet completions definition as Designer and Customer Account Manager – working directly with aircraft owners and operators to define the completion of their particular aircraft.  This was super interesting work and very valuable towards understanding our customers’ needs and the wide variety of ways they use our aircraft to advance their business and personal endeavours.  I’m now focused again on product development, leading Bombardier Business Aircraft’s Industrial Design team to define complete aircraft interiors for our entire aircraft family.  Recent projects include the interior of the Global 7500, the world’s largest and longest-range purpose-built business jet – which entered into service in late 2018.


How would you describe your personal design style?

 My design style as expressed in the Bombardier portfolio of Business Aircraft is in combining influences from other design segments – luxury kitchens, automotive styling, architecture and interior design, fashion, consumer electronics, lighting and experience design – into a single design vision that is unique to business aviation.


In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?

A strong theme that is currently influencing design – not only in business jet and luxury interiors  but also in automotive, architecture and many other segments – is how to integrate technology in an intelligent and meaningful way.   The pace of technological development in consumer electronics is driving connectivity.  These technologies are increasingly becoming part of our lives, and the lives of the people who use our products.  It’s tempting to reactively throw this new technology into our products, but it’s important to do it in a way that brings real value to the user’s experience onboard the aircraft.  Especially in luxury design where considered.   In private aviation, the aircraft of course must be refined and elegant, but they are also important business tools for the people who fly on them, so their appearance needs to be very well thought of.


Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2019 and beyond. 

1)  The designer’s role is to make people’s lives better:  more interesting, more efficient, more beautiful, more capable, more fun!  The design activity is difficult work, but it should also be fun – If not, you’re doing it wrong!  If you are having fun and striving to make people’s lives amazing with your designs, it will show in the final product.


2)  As designers we are often attracted to large gestures, impressive, dramatic concepts.  However even small design details – especially small design details – are an opportunity to show respect and care for the user.   The sound of a latch as it closes, a carefully located power outlet. That is often where people fall in love with objects.
3)  The design activity should begin not with ‘what’ the product should be, but ‘why’?  What are we trying to achieve:  How do we want the user to feel?  Having a strong design vision and purpose will guide design decisions and help enrol colleagues to make amazing products.


4) Technology is an increasingly important element in our lives, but its incorporation in business aircraft should always be done in a careful and considered way.  The design process should always include thinking about specific use cases – what is the right application of this technology, how can it be adapted to serve a real need, how can the aircraft tech best interact with technology (like phones, tablets, streaming content) that our passengers bring with them when  they travel.  We should not avoid using technology– it should bring real value to our products.


5) In addition to improve or adapt existing ideas and products, an important part of the design process is invention – developing elements and features that are truly new.  There are unique design challenges specific to business aviation, and we should be always driving to create truly new design solutions to meet these needs.


If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?

In an aircraft cabin, there are many individual elements that meet particular needs and are really independent design challenges:  Kitchen/galley design, seating, lighting, cabin control, floorplan variability, forgiving, materials and finishes.  It’s important that each of these individual elements received special attention, but also that they are combined together into a cohesive whole that works well as a single environment.


How important are The International Yacht & Aviation Awards?

Design in the yacht and private aviation segment draws inspiration from many different design disciplines but is truly a unique branch of design, incorporating elements of transport, automotive, architecture and furniture design.  The International Yacht & Aviation Awards are an important recognition of excellence in this very specific branch of design.  Being recognized through the awards is a very important acknowledgement of excellence in this specific field.  It is an honour to be considered for this prestigious prize.


What projects are you currently working on?

I wish I could tell you about them!  We are always working on new design projects, but for competitive reasons – and the confidentiality of our clients -we typically do not discuss development programs! But stay tuned!


What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?

Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:

Your favourite holiday destination?

In many parts of Canada there’s a long tradition of going into the woods or to the lake and this is where I usually spend vacation time with family and friends.  Being away from technology, the rush and activity of the office and the noise of the city helps me unwind.  It is less about inspiration and more about recharging the battery and clearing the mind.  I always come back from the lake with a new perspective and a clear vision.


Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar?

My favourite place to eat is actually at home.  I’m a pretty decent cook, if I say so myself!  I love the creativity of it – I find it super relaxing.  Many of our most memorable nights ‘out’ have been dinner parties at home with friends.


Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?

I really enjoy a round of golf with friends on a weekend morning or afternoon.  It’s a great combination of relaxation and focus, and a little bit of friendly competition with friends.


If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

If I were not a designer I may have become a doctor.  I am very interested in medicine, and the amazing machine that is the human body.  I like the idea of the combination of science, the problem-solving approach and the direct ability to help people improve their health and well-being.

Bombardier Business Aircraft