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Rarefied Air

Anh-Minh Le | April 24, 2018 | Style & Beauty Story Style

Even for an event and interior designer of Ken Fulk’s stature—he counts Bay Area tech execs and blue bloods among his clients; his own residences have graced the pages of Architectural Digest—reimagining private jets is an over-the-top experience. “I pinch myself,” says the San Francisco-based Fulk. “I’m a kid from Virginia who grew up in the middle of nowhere. To think that I’m suddenly designing the interior of fancy planes is exciting. It’s a privilege to get to do them, for sure.”

His maiden private jet project was a 15-seat Falcon 900, owned by the head of a private equity firm for whom Fulk has completed multiple homes. “Standing in this anonymous plane, I fantasized, ‘What would a luxurious space feel like?’ I was channeling my own inner-Bond moment of what I wanted to hop on,” he recalls of his initial impression. Indeed, the makeover has been dramatic: “Anyone who’s ever been on it has been like, ‘That’s a great plane!’” he continues, “because it doesn’t feel like every other one; it does have a real point of view.” (The undertaking has led to additional plane projects, including a second job for the same client.)

Fulk’s inspiration was a vintage Jaguar XKE, his “all-time favorite car.” The jet’s interior boasts walls lined in a camel suede; exquisite rosewood panels and trim; and bold geometric carpeting from Stark’s David Hicks collection. The extra-wide, butterscotch-hued textured leather chairs feature channeling along the back. “They don’t look like Barcaloungers or airline seats,” notes Fulk, who even had special mattresses made so that the chairs can convert into beds. Adding to his singular vision are monogrammed cashmere blankets; Goyard dopp kits, personalized for the owner and his family; custom scents in the bathroom, with bottles and labels of Fulk’s own creation; and humorous safety videos. “There’s a playful aspect to it,” says Fulk. “We approach all of our design like that.”

Of course, designing for a plane comes with unique challenges. “You really do need to think about every inch,” says Fulk. “And it’s not like a living room, where you can move the furniture around later. When you’re done, you’re done.” Then there are the Federal Aviation Administration approvals. “Even when it’s materials that you may use in your home, they have to go through an entirely different and very rigorous set of testing to be able to use on a plane—which makes them very expensive,” he explains. “Everything you do on a plane is 10 times what it would cost to do in your home.” Still, according to Fulk, “the giant cost is the purchase. If you’ve gone that far, you might as well make it your own.”

Originally published in the April/May issue of Silicon Valley

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