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Singapore 178res

“Tanning circles like the end of tubes in a wall of ocean driftwood in autumn” is how I described it. The words just tumbled from my mouth. I had walked these halls of Changi T3  many times before on my way to India. Now, for the first time I really contemplated the carpet.

What was tit trying to say? Often our first experience of a country, they suffer millions of feet and must last atleast a decade. No wonder some designers prefer long wearing tiles. But they add at least ten decibels to the room.

Carpets can quieten a room soothingly. Tiles re loud and energetic.    .

“Airport carpets have spread a multi-faceted but uniform aesthetic to the furthest reaches of the globe,” says.George Pendel, guru of all things carpet, and author of Carpets for Airports,

“In their geometric precision, sensitivity to colour, and ability to absorb and hide stains, airport carpets are aesthetically unique. These aren’t carpets but canvases upon which we walk.”

One of the reasons Changi Airport Group decided to install the giant carpet at T3 was because it felt that it would “provide a softer feel on the foot and create a more pleasent waiting experience for the passenger”.

So true, and yet, as I relax y feet in the foot massager,  I still wanted to understand the message the carpet conveyed. Then I am woken from my meanderings by the wave of a smiling Qantas attendant, what ever Australia’s Abbot government may be doing to decimate The Flying Kangaroo , its staff were extremely dedicated in flight and more like family amongst themselves.

The 100,000sqm it took five years, 200,000 kilos of yarn, the fleeces of 65,000 sheep.

Block printing, Changi Terminal 1

As I wandered to Terminal one for my connecting flight I was struck by the brutal contrast of gray monotones, “vertiginous ..designed to give anyone who walks on it the impression of falling out of a window of a skyscaper in the brightly lit Downtown Core, Singapore’s Business District. The pattern was chosen in the belief it would speed passengers to their departure gate.”

Hmmm . well I enjoyed making block prints with children near Gate B3.

The question of what Changi terminal 3’s carpet conveyed stayed with me as I landed in Delhi. Driftwood? That would be appropriate for this island state. ,.

One point was clear. An airport is a gateway, perhaps an first time introduction, to a country. Airport design reveals how a nation sees itself and powerfully impacts its visitors the message of how a nation treats its visitors.

Delhi Airport seems more modern than i remember her. Perhaps it is because this is my first domestic transfer here. Previously I connected to Bhopal by train, or flew out of Mumbai or Chennai.

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I do remember the bright photo’s directing you to the Ladies or Gents, enjoy a latte at Cafe Coffee Day, a visit an ATM and then redirection up a lift to Domestic departures.

I am surprisingly relaxed and happy to be home.

As I walked from departures at Indira Gandhi,  up a lift to the Visitors lounge of the Domestic Airport across noisy speckled  tiles, through the glass I read:

“35.1 Mil Is the annual passenger traffic more than the population of Australia?”

But there are no more available seat’s   I wait for my mobile to charge as I wait to be allowed into the inner sanctum of transfer gates.

Although the ornate elephant sculptures are  beautiful,  it was back into the carpeted inner realms that th tranquility returns.

Indira Gandhi Airport Carpet

The  165,000 square metres of invigorating splendour is perhaps the largest airport carpet made in my old satamping grounds of Pune.

At Indira Gandhi International, the new visually stunning carpet the street scenes, monuments, foods, spices and festivals of India’s diversity.

I leave the last word to George Pendel:

“You are standing in an airport. What do you see? People? Luggage? Perhaps an aeroplane or two, glimpsed through the portholes of a lounge? “ wrote,
No. None of these. If we are honest with ourselves we never really see anything when we are in an airport. We look beyond the unnecessary goods, look beyond the bawling infants, look beyond the indecipherable directions to our boarding gate, and keep looking, unhindered and uninterrupted, towards our beach holiday, our business trip, our family reunion, our dirty weekend. In airports – even if they are Eero Saarinen’s Washington Dulles, or Renzo Piano’s Kansai – we are always looking forward to things, never at them.

The fact is that airports provide little more than a visual holding pattern for us. They are a mauve zone of pseudo-familiarity in which our imagination can project freely into the near-future. Even that strange dance of personal suspicion and official superstition that the modern traveller adheres to – the ritual undressing and body patting, the sacrificing of creams and liquids, the renunciation of fire – barely touches us. Airports are not filled with experience but expectation.

 

Delhi Domestic Terminal Carpet

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