New Eurostar carriage design slammed by fashion's elite

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Influential names from the fashion industry, including Vanity Fair's Virginie Mouzat and British Fashion Council ambassador Sarah Mower, have criticised the interiors of Pininfarina's Eurostar redesign, referring to the Standard Premier carriage as "a disaster".

A slew of critical comments by leading fashion critics and industry figures were left on an Instagram post by design editor and writer Nick Vinson showing the interior of Eurostar's Standard Premier coach.

Brand new @eurostar train but #StillNoWifi?? #Dumb #ShameOnEurostar #PickyNicky #VinsonView

A photo posted by Nick Vinson #PickyNicky (@nickvinson) on

Vinson, who writes a monthly column for Wallpaper*, expressed his dismay at the the lack of Wi-Fi on the train in a caption for the image.

Virginie Mouzat, fashion and lifestyle editor of Vanity Fair France, replied: "This new Eurostar is a disaster. Cheap and not comfortable. And four months ago they said they'd put on the Wi-Fi in one month."

Sarah Mower, who is also a contributing editor for US Vogue, claimed that staff were also unhappy with the redesign of Eurostar's Standard Premiere carriage interiors.

"The staff hates it too as it's hard to manoeuvre," she commented. "I felt quite violent about it – it is now worth paying less to avoid being in that carriage."

Vinson told Dezeen that he was impressed by the comments, which were mainly from "high-hitting fashion women" who use the high-speed train service regularly to travel between London and Paris for events and meetings.



Other commenters included British fashion critic Lisa Armstrong and Charlie Harrington, contributing fashion editor for Harper's Bazaar UK. Wallpaper* magazine also commented from its official Instagram account adding "very harsh lighting."

Eurostar redesign criticised by fashion's elite
Pininfarina also redesigned Eurostar's Standard class coach interior

Armstrong, who is fashion director for the Telegraph newspaper, told Dezeen that the interior design was a "considerable downgrade".

"The seats are too wide so you slide around, the arm rests are hard, and there seems to be even less room for luggage," Armstrong told Dezeen. "It's an assault on the eyes because it looks so cheap and plastic-y."

"The lighting's a disaster, very hard and tiring on the eyes," she continued. "I said to one of the – very nice – attendants that I felt I had to register my disappointment, and he said many, many passengers had done the same."

"It's a total misfire, and the infuriating part is that it has a captive market," she added.

Italian transport design studio Pininfarina unveiled the redesigned train carriages in 2014 to mark Eurostar's 20th anniversary.

Its high-speed train went into commercial service at the end of 2015, with extended routes to Belgium and the Netherlands due to commence this year.

The fleet replaces trains designed under Eurostar's former unofficial creative director, Philippe Starck, who worked as a consultant for the train service until 2005.

Eurostar redesign criticised by fashion's elite
The redesigned fleet of high-speed Eurostar trains went into service in 2015

The old interiors featured beige and brown upholstery, and seats with padded headrests shaped like a wide, shallow U.

The new trains have 20 per cent more seating, with blue and grey interiors and thinner seats designed to create more legroom for passengers.

"From the outset, our aim was to create a warm, inviting and engaging space for our customers," a Eurostar spokesperson told Dezeen. "We're very proud to have worked with Pininfarina on every aspect to create a timeless design which would cater for the varying needs of those on board."

"As the new trains enter service we are listening very carefully to our customers feedback, as our priority is always to provide the best possible customer experience," he added. "Our initial research has seen higher satisfaction scores both for business and leisure audience and of course we’ll continue to monitor this."

Vinson said that a lack of competition had given Eurostar nothing to measure itself against, and compared the new fleet to trains used by Italian operator Trenitalia.

Eurostar St Pancras ticket hall by Christopher Jenner
The Eurostar St Pancras ticket hall by Christopher Jenner was unveiled in 2014

Trenitalia's new high-speed trains went into service in 2013, with a carriage interior designed by Italian studio Bertone Design, led by architect Aldo Cingolani.

"Train services improved dramatically in Italy when Italo arrived on the scene, Trenitalia rose to the challenge," Vinson told Dezeen. "That included the train interiors. Eurostar needs a competitor."

In 2014, Eurostar unveiled a redesign of its London ticket hall by now ex-creative director Christopher Jenner.

The space – intended to to evoke the "golden age of travel" – was widely criticised by Dezeen readers, with one commenter questioning how they could ever "approve such a mistake for St Pancras".

  • Doubtfuldodger

    Calling this a timeless design is a joke!

  • Archi

    It’s all pretty hideous, every single one of the above images could be from any sad commuter train anywhere in the world. Which is pretty disappointing considering that this is the *Eurostar* not the 8:45 to Guildford.

  • William D

    It is hideous. Nothing relaxing about it with the lights. They’ve also crammed more seats in, so although leg room may, allegedly, be better because of the thinner profile seats, the noise will be more.

  • Robert Morrison

    I have had the misfortune to travel on one of the new trains and it was truly awful. The lighting is the worst part, it is like a soviet operating theatre throughout. There are (apparently non-working) reading lights built into the seats, so maybe they originally planned to have main lighting that dimmed? Still no Wi-Fi either.

  • forgotten

    What happened to Christopher Jenner? Wasn’t he the last creative director (ever-so-briefly) at Eurostar? (At least according to the story directly below this one.)

  • Robert Johnston

    Absolutely agree with everything said here. The new Eurostar is hideous beyond belief. Uncomfortable and tacky.

    • Roberto Sideris

      I think Pininfarina remembered the interior of trains during Mussolini’s Italy, but at least they ran on time, unlike Eurostar.

  • Jon

    Have to concur with the comments, sad to say. The lighting design and colour palette in particular are very badly thought out. It is trying to use a laptop with the colour tones/lighting whilst in the tunnel that gives me a headache.

    They are in stark contrast to the Trenitalia Frecciarossa Business class, which are hands down one of the best-designed carriage layouts in Europe for comfort, layout etc. Great for meetings and enough space for even the largest laptop (only travelled the premium first class Executive once for a working journey to make use of the meeting room, not really worth it for anything else). Why couldn’t Eurostar have taken lessons from them?

  • Roberto Sideris

    I think we just saw Pininfarina stumble and fall… hugely.

  • Roberto Sideris

    It’s hilarious how you go from the gaudy ticket hall trying to echo something of the beautiful Russian underground to the Spartan interior of the new Eurostar, which is positively post-revolutionary Russia.

  • Something that looks so sleek on the outside and rather like an old bus on the inside.

  • Al

    I don’t know where to begin with this. It’s just awful.

  • Guillaume

    If Bertone was still around…

    • rickbradner

      Bertone IS still around! It was purchased by Giugiaro, so the designs coming from the firm should be excellent.

  • will mitchell

    It’s not only Eurostar, there is a trend across the rail industry to design train interiors akin to torture chambers. Who designs these things? They obviously don’t travel by rail.

    Why is all the lighting so harsh? Why are all the seats so hard and uncomfortable? Why don’t the seats line up with the windows? Why are the seat backs so high that you feel claustrophobic? Why is there no lumbar support in the seat backs?

    Why would Eurostar choose to make its train interiors like a Ryanair cabin?

  • Kay

    Opening the HS1 rail lines to other operators has been theoretically done and Duetsche Bahn have been working hard since 2009 on figuring out how their wider Siemens carriages can make it on the narrow strips. Thalys, Veolia, Renfe and others all floated around plans.

    The issue always seems to be logistics and cost. A cynic would say someone is always trying to protect the Eurostar monopoly, and it makes sense, because this has been around since 2008 and yet there are no Trans Europe Express ticket booths in St Pancras.

    This is despite the fact that St Pancras’s expansion was purposefully done with the expansion to non-Eurostar EU trains in mind.

  • Guest

    Is there anybody out there that likes the interior? If so, why do you like it?

  • This is extremely dull, but since some years, Starck then Jenner came and went as creative directors, so my guess is that the whole company seems to suffer from bad design management.

    On the other hand, I’ve been recently in the Arlanda Shuttle in Stockholm, and the seats are an absolute delight on any point. I don’t know who did the design though.

    https://www.arlandaexpress.com/trainfuture.aspx

    • Kay

      Agreed, I was on the Arlanda express last year and thought it was super sleek, not to mention very reasonably priced considering its Stockholm and the express train.

      Not to sound too harsh but honestly some places get design better than others, it just comes more naturally to them. They know that more is not always better. And it also helps that their governments promote this type of thinking not crush it.

  • James

    Philippe Starck offered an exciting vision when Eurostar opened. This is anything but exciting.

  • Claire Bozic

    The sagging “antimacassars” contribute an especially worn and droopy look to the car.

  • Michael Swanson

    Am I the only person who’s bothered by the wrinkly head rests?

    • Mr J

      No you’re not – they look for all the world like unused items recovered from a 1950s-era airliner.

  • rickbradner

    “Eurostar’s Standard Premiere carriage”. With such an oxymoronic name should we really expect anything better?

  • Peter W

    Looks like something from the 70s, I guess that’s when Pininfarina was hip.

  • Gavin

    Leisure class is a blunt effort to make you upgrade – looks like Ryanair but with even less flattering lighting. Nasty, provincial. Haven’t been onboard in years and in no rush now despite looking forward to the new trains.