Drink Up — Way Up, At Virgin Atlantic’s Swingin’ New Mile-High Inflight Bars

Virgin Atlantic's new Upper Class bar
(Courtesy VW+BS)

Richard Branson has never been known for behaving conventionally; when he's not climbing Mount Everest or racing James Cameron to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, he can be found in the desert touching beaming down to his Norman Foster-designed spaceport. And even at cruising altitude, the air and space tycoon is full of surprises. He recently unveiled the new Upper Class cabin that will start appearing in Virgin Atlantic airplanes. Part Dan Flavin light installation, part "Mad Men" mid-century cool, the glowing interiors designed by London-based practice VW+BS bring to mind a swinging '60s sex club transposed into the bright neon universe of "Tron." 

The $162 million interior redesign includes 1,000-crystal Swarovski curtains and an eight-foot-long bar, the world's largest inflight watering hole. Surprisingly, the bar's color palette is mostly neutral. The surface is a shade of off-white with a champagne lacquer finish, but the magic is in the RGB lighting embedded into the design. There are eight different color schemes to suit different moods, whether for bedtime or transitioning between time zones, but the default appears to be set on "sexy."

Next up on the list of elaborately-designed airplane cabins is Dutch super-designer Hella Jongerius for KLM. We've got high hopes for her rogue, colorful aesthetic in the air, but can it trump Branson's mile-high swingers' lounge?

Click the slide show to see more images of VW+BS's designs for the new Virgin Atlantic cabins.