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The Next Frontier For Public Art? Airline Tray Tables

The restless hours of airplane travel are typically spent sleeping awkwardly, bartering for an extra mini bag of pretzels, and crying to bad movies. Less typical? Casually taking in some original art while 30,000 feet in the air.

Unless you end up on one particular Delta flight, that is: The airline recently paired up with Coca-Cola to transform its boring airline tray tables in the main cabin into vibrant works of art. The companies tapped the New York office of Wieden + Kennedy to lead the promotional effort, and the ad agency commissioned 12 different artists to design a tray. These included the likes of Noma Bar, Stevie Gee, Paola Gracey, and Alex Yanes—each of whom were assigned a city to depict in their own distinct style.

As a result, Delta passengers might pull down their tray to illustrator Pedro Campiche‘s street-art inspired New York City skyline, or Bar’s spare and colorful nod to London weather. Gracey’s scene made of paint drips, glitter, and epoxy resin represents the lights and neon signs of Tokyo. It’s a clever stealth advertising strategy. The trays feel custom-designed to be shared on Instagram–and among passengers who would normally be more inclined to complain about Delta rather than promote it. (Tagged “behind-the-scenes” photos are also popping up on the participating artists’ Instagrams.) Think of them as a bright spot to otherwise drab airplane interiors—not to mention inspired surfaces for your complimentary soda water.

Check out the full set in the slide show above.MM