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An interview with the owners of Airborne Christine Pfeiffer and Patricia Lejeune:

'The iconic AA chair is timeless and passed on through generations'

The renowned French furniture company Airborne has a history dating back to 1951. The company gained global recognition for its iconic designs, including the legendary AA chair. Under the leadership of Christine Pfeiffer and Patricia Lejeune, Airborne recently partnered with designer Jean Charles de Castelbajac and showcased their timeless collections at Maison&Objet in Paris. In this interview, we'll explore Airborne's participation at the trade show, its signature pieces and future plans.

Christine Pfeiffer and Patricia Lejeune at Maison&Objet last January.

What inspired the founding of Airborne? Can you tell us more about the company's history?
'Airborne was founded in 1951 by Charles Bernard. Between 1951 and 1975 Airborne became a recognised retailer of French furniture. 200 emblematic models came out of the workshops during this period of time. Pierre Guariche, Olivier Mourgue, Daniele Quarante, Yves Christian, among others enhanced the worldwide success of the company.

In 1938, 3 designers Jorge Ferrari-Hardoy, Juan Kurchan and Antonio Bonnet designed the BKF chair. The success was immediate: they had created an icon of modern design. Charles Bernard became aware of it very quickly and released it in 1951 under the name AA for the French and European market.

In 2010, the company was bought by Christine Pfeiffer and Patricia Lejeune. Based in the Southwest of France. They recentered the artistic creation around the historic DNA of Airborne and started by releasing the AA chair and the AO table designed in 1958 by the design office. Attentive to their customers and working in close contact with their manufacturers, they were able to incorporate new technical fabrics such as Batyline, offering a wide range of colours and durability for outdoor use.'

The AA Chair.

What are some of the signature pieces or best-selling items in Airborne's product lineup?
'Airborne's best seller is the iconic AA chair. Edited under the name AA since 1951 by Airborne. It is timeless and passed on through generations.

The AA consists of a steel wire frame on which a cover is placed. Originally in leather, then in linen and then cotton, with the famous central white stitching, that became the emblem of the brand. The covers can be changed depending on the season and one's preferences, which is a major factor in the popularity of this chair.

Today we offer a range of 60 different covers and have recently brought back the original one-piece chairs in black, white, red, green, yellow, and blue from the 1950's.'

Could you tell us about any collaborations or partnerships that Airborne has engaged in to bring unique designs to the market?
'Airborne worked on collaborations with Jerome Dreyfuss and other well-known brands in the past. As well as with Herve Langlais on the chainmail cover. This year Airborne has collaborated with Jean Charles de Castelbajac on an AA cover.

Some of our collections have also been integrated in Le Mobilier National Français, such as the Impala, Miss Trèfle, and AO table.'

What markets is the company most active in and how are the market conditions now?
'We mainly sell to shops, who then resell to the final customer. We have over 200 French shops listed on our website. Most of our clients are European but we are starting to expand to the American continent. We have also developed contracts with hotels, restaurants, and interior designers. This allows us to work on bigger projects.'

Left: the newest AA Chair design by Jean Charles de Castelbajac. Right: the Hamaka.

You were at Maison&Objet. What products did you show at the fair and how were they received?
'We had all our products on show at the fair. The AA, BB, AO, Miss Trèfle, Impala, Assise and Hamaka collections were on show. The main attention was on our brand-new collaboration with Jean Charles de Castelbajac, that was very well received. Moreover, it was the first time showing the finished model of the Hamaka, which also got a lot of positive feedback.'

Will you be coming back to the fair next year, or do you have other fairs you are attending?
'Yes, we will be present in September 2024 at Maison&Objet as well as at the Paris Design Week. Then in November we will be participating in the Equiphotel fair.'

What are the plans for Airborne in 2024?
'Our commitment to sustainability remains at the core of our strategy. We have chosen to prioritise quality over quantity, focusing on timeless products designed to withstand the test of time. Unlike the current trend of frequently refreshing collections, we aim to ensure a continuity in the availability of our products, avoiding rapid obsolescence and contributing to more responsible consumption.

Anticipating trends is another cornerstone of our approach for the coming years. We are committed to staying at the forefront of design and market preferences, investing in research and development to create furniture that meets the emerging needs of our customers.

We take pride in maintaining our tradition of manufacturing in France. By promoting local production, we support the national economy while ensuring high standards of quality and sustainability. This approach also reinforces our commitment to preserving artisanal know-how and environmental stewardship.'

More information:
+33 (0)5 58 71 98 20