“Since it’s a balloon and not a rocket, the question became, ‘How do we dress it? How do we style it?’” Dirand explains, “We wanted the experience to feel residential, not like a spaceship.” And because he didn’t want to detract from the cosmic scenery, it was important to create something minimalistic and serene that would only reinforce the real attraction of the experience. “It had to be extremely pure and humble,” he says.
The finished interiors are polished and unpretentious, full of soft curves swaddled in creams and whites. Inviting textures, like carpets along the floors and upholstered couches, make the space feel like somewhere you’d take off your shoes and kick back to watch a show—a particularly welcome option if the performance is a transformative ascension into outer space that offers an ethereal view of the planet from miles above its surface. “It’s full of these organic shapes, but of course the main scenery isn’t the design, but what you’re doing,” Dirand says.
When planning the layout, privacy and flexibility were of particular importance for Dirand. The vessel can accommodate up to six people and two pilots, and he wanted to give those onboard the opportunity to experience the once-in-a-lifetime trip in ways that felt most comfortable to them. “The capsule is shaped like a round triangle,” Dirand explains. Inside, it’s separated into three private cabins, allowing pairs to branch off as appropriate. “But all of the rooms connect to a central space, so if you travel with friends or family you can also open the doors and come together,” he explains.
Because both the capsule as a whole and individual cabins have such a compact footprint—the smallest capsule Dirand has ever designed—the challenge was determining what fundamental elements should be included in the limited space. To frame the ever-changing landscape, each cabin is defined by an oversized oval window (those on Celeste offer the widest view of the stratosphere of any spacecraft currently on the market). Custom built-in couches—with a detachable ottoman and small table—hug the curved walls, making it possible to sit or lie down in various combinations throughout the flight. “The idea is that you can be close to the window or also move back for some distance, so you don’t feel trapped in a cell,” Dirand says.
Each flight takes six hours, during which time the capsule will climb 15.5 miles above the Earth’s surface. On board, guests receive tailored offerings, including the opportunity for Michelin-starred cuisine. The experience will cost $129,237 per person, and a limited number of presale tickets are already available to purchase.