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Aircraft trolley, Swissair Trolley, ca. 1979
Peter BucherSigi Grap
Aircraft trolley, Swissair Trolley,
Peter Bucher, Sigi Grap,

Aircraft trolley, Swissair Trolley,
ca. 1979

Peter BucherSigi Grap
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Ausstellungsstrasse 60
8031 Zurich
Museum map
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Toni-Areal, Pfingstweidstrasse 94
8031 Zurich
  • Swissair Trolley Peter Bucher Sigi Grap Aircraft trolley
Listen to the text

A kitchen onboard an airplane must be above all one thing—lightweight. In the 1970s, Heinrich Bucher (1918–1992) developed a new construction technique for the service carts. The exterior walls are composed of milled aluminum panels, which makes the “trolleys” especially stable and durable. The color and logo can be adapted to fit the airline’s corporate identity.

Heinrich Bucher, a trained sheet metal specialist, began working in Swissair’s repair service in 1943. One of his responsibilities was to overhaul the onboard kitchens—so-called galleys, which store the packaged food prepared on ground, keeping it at the correct temperature. Like all airplane installations, they need to be as lightweight as possible while still withstanding heavy use as well as the forces of deceleration and acceleration. Bucher drew on his experience to begin independently manufacturing his own onboard kitchens in 1953, developing a new series of “trolleys” in 1973–74 that could be used as service carts, waste containers, or to sell duty-free products. Like the standard models of the time, these trolleys were modular aggregates that could be fitted and replaced without the use of any special tools, and also took into account the ergonomic aspects of the airplane cabin as workplace. What was new, however, was that he used “monocoque” construction, which draws its stability from the skin itself, in this case solid aluminum panels, rather than from welded, pressed, or cast elements. These “integral structures” minimize the amount of material used, reducing the trolley’s overall weight while still guaranteeing a high level of sturdiness. Thanks to the CNC process, they can be easily adjusted to customer specifications. The corrosion-proof panels are powder-coated in the respective corporate color. These trolleys have a life span of ten to fifteen years, and although they are more expensive than rival products, their maintenance costs are lower. (Renate Menzi)

Flugzeug Servicewagen, Swissair Trolley, um 1979
Entwurf: Peter Bucher, Sigi Grap
Herstellung: Bucher Leichtbau AG, CH
Produktion: Swissair, Schweizerische Luftverkehr Aktiengesellschaft, Kloten, CH
Material/Technik: Aluminium, eloxiert, pulverbeschichtet (Wände, Tür)
103 × 30,5 × 50 cm
Donation: Heinrich Bucher
Eigentum: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Museum für Gestaltung Zürich (Hg.), 100 Jahre Schweizer Design, Zürich 2014, S. 256.

Museum für Gestaltung Zürich (Hg.), Unbekannt – Vertraut. «Anonymes» Design im Schweizer Gebrauchsgerät seit 1920, Reihe Schweizer Design-Pioniere 4, Zürich 1987, S. 152-155

Image credits

Flugzeug Servicewagen, Swissair Trolley, um 1979, Entwurf: Peter Bucher, Sigi Grap, Donation: Heinrich Bucher
Abbildung: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Explosionszeichnung eines Trolleys, um 1979, Auftrag: Bucher Leichtbau AG, CH
Abbildung: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Fotografie, Blick in die hintere Bordküche einer MD-81, 1973/74
Abbildung: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK