Portland’s latest project, the CNN Traveller café, was recently launched at T3 in Abu Dhabi International Airport. The concept, which is operated by SSP, is another way for business and leisure travellers to connect with CNN and is part of an expansive consumer engagement initiative.

The design concept is modular and ranges from 150 sqm to 400 sqm (depending on whether it’s just the café element or café plus retail, plus salon) The experience is designed for business and leisure passengers who see news as an invaluable part of their daily routine and like to be constantly informed.

CNN Traveller café at Abu Dhabi International Airport, operated by SSP, gives visitors a comprehensive CNN experience including: CNN International broadcast in HD on a number of screens, with integrated audio system for each table; curated online, social and visual CNN content displayed on a media wall comprising four state-of-the-art Samsung digital signages; latest news headlines in an RSS news ticker situated above the serving counter. The café offers customers a wide range of food and beverages in CNN Traveller-branded packaging and crockery. Items on the menu include local specialties such as fatoush or taboule salad as well as a selection of open sandwiches, breakfast and all-day sandwiches and wraps. Customers also have access to free Wi-Fi.

The clean, simple and sophisticated design palette was carefully considered to reflect the strength, confidence and authority of the CNN brand. Portland worked within the CNN brand colours of red, white, grey and black to introduce timber floors and walls and textured materials to create more warmth and softness.

Lewis Allen, Director of Environments at Portland comments: “CNN is famous for being the first to break news and get to stories faster than their rivals. So we took the idea of “constantly being connected” and translated this in to a travel retail context where staying connected with life, with news and with family and friends is an important need”.

Allen continues: “The design is very focussed on the needs of the traveller. This is exemplified by traveller-friendly design solutions throughout the CNN Traveller café that add amenity and practicality for travelling consumers. For example, smart table storage where people can put their mobile devices while they are charging; flip seats that are integrated into the wall and located at perch points; luggage storage areas under tables and banquette seating. Customers can also personalise their space and experience through lighting, sound and connectivity”.

Portland also used the theme of “smart connections” to connect customers through stories to news events explaining their history and meaning. The idea of the smart, clever brand is also translated into the menu with insights and stories around health and wellbeing all featuring on the different product packaging.

In terms of the brand identity, Portland designed the CNN Traveller marque based on the existing CNN identity, using the same graphic motif and embedded it within the CNN Traveller identity.

Abu Dhabi was the obvious location for the first CNN Traveller café as this is one of CNN’s major global production, newsgathering and commercial hubs.

Portland will continue to work with CNN on developing the vision for future CNN Traveller cafés with the next one launching in Dubai International Airport in 2015.