Thrilled to be included in the Los Angeles launch of this prestigious luxury magazine.
Here's a fresh VIDEO interview from the AOPA LIVE BROADCAST (directed at the Aviation industry) that discusses the SkyRanch and the "why" of customization. Eddie Sotto along with Jay Beever, Embraer's VP of Interior Design, describe the Lineage 1000e and the new Phenom 300e. The fun starts about 9m30s in, but the whole show is exciting if you enjoy aircraft.
NBAA Las Vegas- We joined Embraer's VP of Interior Design, Jay Beever on the interview couch aboard their flagship Lineage 1000e to discuss bespoke design and the recent Manhattan and Skyranch One concepts developed for the Lineage with an eager press. A great show and so much fun with a great ally. Toured a vintage DC3 on display there and discussed how "time travel" is really possible within the immersive world of a period aircraft. Additional thanks to Daniel Bachmann, Frank Chavez and the entire Embraer support staff for a great event. Here are some moments aboard the flagship Lineage, and about the tarmac with Jay and Daniel.
Here are a few excerpts from the Luxe Et Al "Winners Issue," discussing why SkyRanch One received this most coveted "Best Private Jet Concept" award.
Many thanks once again to our gracious friends at Embraer Executive Aircraft for partnering with us on this design adventure. We couldn't have done it without you!
Like many of us, I was saddened to hear of the passing of Xavier or as we knew him "X," Atencio. He had raised a family that literally grew up with Disney as his daughter Tori will tell you. She too contributed so much in her career there and was very prolific in WED's Interiors department. Stunning career. X's presence in the parks writing the lyrics to the Disneyland attraction songs we have embedded in our minds like the "Yo, Ho- A Pirates Life for Me" or the "Grim Grinning Ghosts" will endure as long as those shows do. His voice echoes through the pirate caverns reminding us that "Dead Men tell no Tales." Ironically, X was the one living Imagineer who I recall telling those tales like there were. We can go on about accomplishments, but others have done that, I'd like to discuss his personality and why it mattered.
Disney Imagineering by it's nature, attracts all sorts of quirky artists, misfit engineers, writers and model builders from all over. In the early days it was a consortium chosen for the most part by Walt himself. They say opposites attract and they do when there is one name on the door that unifies them, Walt Disney. Still there are egos and sensitivities. Those sometimes opposing personalities generate great friction and to an extent Walt would competitively pit those personalities against each other by "casting" them to work together, hoping to drive each one to their best brink. The results speak for themselves. To that end, there were those who spoke their mind from the top of their head, telling it as they saw it, and in my interactions with X, he laid it on the line, but with a smile. Very refreshing, and you had to love it.
Keeping it Surreal
I attended Disney Legend John Hench's memorial service, where X broke ranks and brought near deification back down to earth. He was the only one that was warmly critical about how Hench drew Mickey Mouse, an honor that Hench carried on until he passed. "I never agreed with the way he drew Mickey Mouse," X stunned the crowd, then added "...but if it was good enough for Walt.." Laughter. His sting was never mean. He recalled that he and Herb Ryman (another cynically hilarious Imagineer) joked that "Mickey's EPCOT portrait had his hand cupped like he was waiting for a payoff." More laughs. Then after critiquing more of the art, he humbly asked John to forgive him. So as not to end in snark, X commented on how both of them felt about Walt and his passing, truly what united them. X gave context to his critiques with "John Hench was John Hench...It was Mickey Mouse according to Hench". True in that each of put a bit of ourselves into the Disney work. Good reminder.
Irreverence- The X Factor
X brought something very valuable beyond his talent to WED, it was "taking the air out of the balloon" that brings us all down to earth. The worst thing that can happen to a project is when it takes itself so seriously it no longer connects with it's audience. At WED, the talent was so strong there was the need for irreverence and keeping the focus on the fun the guest would have, not ourselves. Careers like X experienced took him unwittingly from animation to music, and into writing were great examples of a willingness to learn. When you are new to a field, you are humble, more open, as he was. His daughter Tori would look at me at times when I got over excited about thinking my latest idea was the greatest thing, when I was out of breath, she'd slowly flash a smile and say "Cool your jets, Eddie."
Today we all cool our collective jets in honor of X, a wonderful Imagineer.
Love to the family as well.
2017 has been the year for collaboration. Private Jet Services, Katy Glynn and Skytheater, and now another project, this one commissioned by innovation leader, Embraer Executive Aircraft. In 2013 Jay Beever, VP of interior design, struck by our notion of a "yacht that can fly" took it up the ladder in a day to win the management approval for us to bring it to the Lineage. From that moment on, Beever's encouragement, expert advice, and collaborative product vision has been at the heart of a great relationship that fueled our entries into some of the best and most widely published design this studio and Embraer have ever experienced. A great collaborative force. Skyacht One, Skyranch One, and now the Manhattan all are products of this relationship. All in the flagship Embraer Lineage. A worthy follow-up to winning the IYAA for SkyRanch together! Thanks to Jay, his team, and thanks to Embraer, now let's go build one!
Join me at the Art Deco Festival aboard the HMS Queen Mary. This Saturday August 19 at 11am I will give a 45 minute lecture in the Queen's Ballroom discussing how both futurist designer Norman Bel Geddes and Walt Disney both wanted to build "Worlds of Tomorrow" and how the style was influential in entertainment design. Who inspired who? Come find out, we're showing the Manhattan Airship as well! More here.
Disney Imagineering President and Disney Legend Marty Sklar passed away recently at 83. He was my boss and we had adjoining offices at Imagineering. Marty was a true survivor, enduring many "adminstrations," each with studio efficiency experts ready to "fix" Imagineering and reorganize the renegade band of disparate talents. Through it all, Marty weathered every storm by explaining to the Studio what we do and we just kept going. I met Marty, not at Disney, but as an 11 year old through his souvenir book describing Disneyland. I must have read it a dozen times as it was the only real inside story of the park, the how and why. Even then he was an inspiration to not just me, but many kids reading it. Having him inscribe the last page at his retirement party meant a lot. Marty's book left this kid sensing the DNA of Walt, it was always about "what is not yet done." Going further.
At the Mouse.
Once at Disney Imagineering decades later, Sklar also shepherded many of us designers in our careers, allowing us to experience an "E ticket" thrill ride aboard the "Imagineering Bus", at times in the "front seat" with praise via his legendary "red pen" notes, or the occasional toss "below the wheels" to keep us humble. I especially needed that. Being a rabid UCLA alum, Marty admired Coach Wooden and felt there was no "I" in team, so his mentorship was widespread. He backed ideas you were passionate about without a spreadsheet, like what was to become "Mission:Space" at EPCOT. I laid on my back describing how guests will sense the G Forces of "blast off" and he agreed to fund development! He sensed our passion. His several post-Disney books were also a team effort as he asked many of us to contribute our thoughts. His final work lies unfinished, a design tome called "Mickey's 10 Commandments." He asked me to write something for it a week before he passed, and I was fortunate enough to hear that he wanted to include it. Sadly, that was the last communication we had. Here it is.
"The one thing that Marty’s guidelines have always meant to me is that success is fragile. The business we’re in is one of intangibles and there are balance sheets full of the red ink of those who have tried to merely copy the "Disney formula" and failed. Slavishly encrusting shallow “worlds" with detail and ornament, but lacking soul, clarity, or any understanding of how to connect emotionally with their audience. Building places in spite of their guest's dreams, instead of fulfilling them. There is a reason Disneyland has been called a “labor of love” and it is. The detail is not for art’s sake, it’s for your sake because someone wanted the “escape” to suspend your disbelief. The success of theme parks isn’t in getting people to come, it’s getting people to come back. For decades.
I love sitting on a Main Street bench and watching how the guests react, what works and gets a smile and what doesn’t, but they sense that we were all there. To me, "Mickey’s Ten Commandments" was best summarized by Walt himself in a story Marty likes to tell. Walt once explained that the parks were all about "satisfying people’s needs", and he meant emotional needs. Emotional needs are the reason we get up in the morning, they are our dreams for the future. Choosing the right themes to fulfill a hidden aspiration, playing just the right song, or directing the smell of candy into the street to trigger a memory. How do you do that without “knowing your audience” or "being in their shoes”? They sense the care, love, nostalgia, or childlike innocence of a reassuring experience when we do that job sincerely and earnestly, not because it promotes a movie or toy. No doubt Walt knew better than most what he missed about his own childhood and family, and knew how to build an upbuilding family experience that was a “ton of treat" for us to treasure in our own way."
Marty Sklar meant a great deal to so many people, not just because he worked for Disney, but because he took time to write an encouraging note, listen to your idea, or push you to do your best. I'm not into deification, as if you're looking for faults in Marty or anyone for that matter, you'll find them. Being none of us are perfect, we look for those outstanding qualities and habits worth admiring, celebrate their positive effects, and build on them. Now that's Disney!