Benjamin Hubert of experience design agency LAYER has designed Sequel Seat, a premium cinema seat that elevates the cinema experience and aims to entice moviegoers back to cinemas in a post-COVID-19 world. It is currently predicted that the global box office could lose US$10 billion due to the pandemic. Sequel Seat offers the opportunity for cinemas to transform the cinema experience for moviegoers and tackle these challenges in a meaningful way.
Sequel Seat was in development by LAYER with a leading US-based cinema seating company for 14 months prior to the pandemic. With the onset of COVID-19, however, the company went into receivership due to the widespread closure of cinemas around the world. LAYER retained the IP and continued to work on the project, with a belief that a new approach to cinema seating would be essential for the recovery of the industry. The resulting seat – which is available for licensing – not only redefines the cinema experience, as the original brief set out to do, but offers a safer way for cinemas to operate during times of enhanced social distancing now and in possible future scenarios.
Sequel Seat boasts a number of innovative features that are cleverly integrated into the structure of the chair to ensure the footprint is equal to existing premium cinema seating.
Each headrest has integrated LEDs that display the seat number and the name used for the booking. This not only minimizes the risk of audience members accidentally breaching social distancing measures by sitting in the wrong seat, but also makes the moviegoing experience a more personal one.
The 3D-knitted fabric upholstery incorporates antibacterial copper threads and is seamlessly woven to eliminate crevices that may act as dirt traps. In addition, the durable, hydrophobic, stain-resistant textile has been tested for resistance to water, soft drinks, popcorn grease, and sweat, and can be easily wiped clean should spills occur.
The softly cocooning seat has removable protective screens that safely separate audience members. In times when strict hygiene measures are no longer necessary, this screen can be easily removed.
In the armrest between each seat is a storage unit for bags and jackets which keeps belongings out of the aisle to reduce trip hazards in the dark. An innovative built-in UV light sterilises the belongings when they are placed inside. The rear of each seat also features a UV light that is used to sterilise the seat behind it in between screenings.
Personal speakers are integrated into the headrest of each seat, creating an unprecedented immersive audio experience for viewers and elevating the cinema experience above what can be achieved in the home.
The armrest of each seat features an intuitive control panel that allows users to easily control the recline, lumbar support, and seat temperature, and call for assistance. This allows moviegoers to craft their own unique experience to give them an exceptional level of physical and emotional comfort.
The design language of Sequel Seat is contemporary, with a rolling rhythm created by the rise and fall of the armrests, and a subtle wing back on the seat that delivers comfort without confining a moviegoers shoulders. The fresh and inviting colour palette is inspired by the mid-century pastels used in Wes Anderson films, giving the seat a connection to the world of cinema and setting it apart from the outdated black and burgundy palette of conventional seating.
Sequel Seats are modular and can be arranged into rows of any desired length, enabling them to be used in a variety of different cinema sizes and arrangements. The end of each row is marked by an LED that projects the row number onto the floor.
“We believe that a product like Sequel Seat will play a key role in encouraging people to come back to the cinema,” says Benjamin Hubert – Founder, LAYER. “In today’s rapidly evolving entertainment landscape, it is essential for the cinema to offer an experience that is significantly differentiated from the growing streaming market. Sequel Seat is a tool that delivers the enhanced comfort and essential safety features that will help cinemas define themselves as a safe place where moviegoers can be transported to another world.”