You’re sitting on a plane, cramped into the middle seat, and all you want to do is rest your arms. To your dismay the passenger next to you has already claimed the armrest. You glare at him trying to give him a hint, but he just won’t budge.
These struggles are all too common on flights. But James Lee has figured out a way to end them. He has redesigned the aeroplane armrest to create space for two passengers’ arms. His Paperclip Armrest uses a double-deck structure that allows one passenger to use the bottom and the other to use the top.
According to Paperclip Design’s site, the two-level design works well because “our arms are flexible and can easily adapt to different heights.” Lee figured out that the perfect dimensions are when the bottom level is 8 inches from the seat, and the top level is three inches above the bottom level, leaving enough space for an arm.
And while an aeroplane is a perfect application for the Paperclip Armrest, it can apply to other settings such as trains, movie theatres, and waiting areas. Lee actually came up with the idea when he was sitting in a lecture hall at MIT, according to Slice of MIT.
“I was in packed lecture hall at MIT, in 10-250, and the person next to me kept his arms on both armrests,” he told Slice. “I looked at where his arms were positioned and realised if the armrest were double level, then there could be space for me to place my arms.”
A few years later, Lee brought a prototype to the Crystal Cabin Awards the only international award for aircraft interior innovation, where he took home of the six awards of the night. As of now, the Paperclip Armrest is still just a design, but Lee is working on making it a reality.
“Currently my focus is on theatre seating companies,” he said. “It’s a lot harder to get into the aviation market with regulations and costs. But I hope to see them in planes within the next few years.”
Check out some more photos of the brilliant design: