ABSOLUT Korean Air—Spirits in the Sky

ABSOLUT and Korean Air has launched a unique and innovative collaboration when the first brand-new Korean Air Airbus A380 took off on 17 June with ABSOLUT Celestial Bars on board—sky bars in the true sense of the expression.

It’s a unique collaboration project that started back in 2005. The project has been greatly improved, enhanced and expanded in the meantime. Korean Air has ordered ten A380 aircraft, with the first five to be delivered by the end of 2011 and an additional five by 2014. “With the Celestial Bars, we want to bring some of the classic jet set glamour back, updated for an all-new generation of aircraft and style of travel,” says Anders Olsson, Director of The Absolut Company Global Travel Retail.

ABSOLUT is famous for its innovative and groundbreaking initiatives in the duty-free/travel retail market, while Korean Air is the world’s most successful in-flight retail airline. In addition to the onboard Celestial Bars (two in Business Class, one in First Class), the new Airbus A380s (the largest commercial aircraft in the history of aviation) also feature a complete onboard Duty Free Showcase, with a selection of high-end and exclusive products.

For ABSOLUT, the Korean Air collaboration has brought with it a new set of challenges for the brand’s celebrated design team. “Designing for an aircraft was a new world to us, though we have extensive experience in building bars in all imaginable kinds of environments,” says Anders Olsson, Director of The Absolut Company Global Travel Retail. “The merging of design, extreme high-tech and extreme security issues was exciting and most challenging. In aviation, every detail is crucial, in the true meaning of that word. Adding another five centimeters to the bar? Forget about it. Want to put a refrigerator here? Well, where do you want to get the electricity? What do you want to sacrifice—the toilet or the microwave? Everything is stripped down to the barest essentials to meet security and spatial demands. These extreme demands put pressure on us to purify our design, which elevates quality.”

The ABSOLUT branding in the Celestial Bars is kept very discrete, minimal and toned down. There are no visible logotypes in the bars. The ABSOLUT brand is subtly communicated in an exclusively designed pattern inspired by traditional Korean woodcarvings, decorated with the iconic ABSOLUT bottle shape. This pattern is used in the bar wallpaper, as well as on drink coasters. There are also a variety of drink folders and cards with exclusively created drinks, offering guests inspiration to mix their own (one of the onboard bars is serviced by a bartender/mixologist, while the other two are self-service).