The Bombardier Global will undoubtedly remain an endless source of inspiration for the French designer Didier Wolff.  After a first Global in 2013, the artist is once again in the spotlight with the livery design of a particularly complex aircraft:  Carboneum.

Industry professionals will have immediately recognized this unique design launched in December 2012 during the Brabus concept and which was widely covered in the media. While the automaker decided to throw in the towel due to low orders, the design by Happy Design Studio still remained available for those willing customers around the world.

A collection of experts

2017 was characterized by a steady wave of work for the French designer. After the completion of a commemorative livery on an F-16 for the Belgian air force, Didier Wolff was awarded the completion of this exclusive paintwork through the Swiss firm Ruag on behalf of an owner. The Strasbourg native then found himself working with a team that he met four years prior during the paintwork on a Global 5000. This second project enabled him once again to bring together the two best specialists in this field for large surface airbrushing: Walter Maurer and Martin Dippel of A.S.A.P. Aviation. To bolster their teams, Didier Wolff also wished to work with German designer and specialist in the “extreme stencils” field, Gilbert Holzer and his company AironArt. “The nature of this project combines the expertise of numerous people”, states D. Wolff before adding, “Because in addition to strictly design work, the success of such livery cannot be achieved without the opinion and technical skill of reputable experts in the field of painting, drawing and stencil design. Several techniques come into play together resulting in an overall consistent, harmonious and above all realistic finished product.”

Down to the millimeter

The main challenge of the Carboneum livery remained the finished look of materials, in particular the carbon and honey-comb texture. Three full weeks, over 2,500 hours of work and a team of 30 people were necessary to complete the livery of the Global 6000 that had just left the workshop following a major revision. Still on site, the designer orchestrated the work and supervised the entire project with firstly the careful consideration of Gilbert Holzer of AironArt for the production of the stencils.

This specialist had to come up with a new reliable calculation technique to obtain a perfect result on very complex zones such as the engine nacelles with regular and irregular curves. In order to fully fit these curves, the honey-comb texture covering each engine was divided into 24 separate stencils with the main challenge being the infinitely variable sizes of each.  Throughout the application work, everything was measured down to the millimeter despite working with vinyl sheets that were not very flexible and delicate laying work. Given the complexity of the design, several attempts were needed before finding the best way to assemble each element. In this respect, Didier Wolff stated having to “reproduce on site the layout and scale of the honey comb for the access door based on the number of cells on the engine nacelles so that everything was perfectly consistent and legible”.


Beneath its seemingly somber metallic gray exterior, the aircraft has a very specific color scheme, as it uses the Ferrari anthracite gray, as Global’s owner. This basic color was used as a reference for all paint derivatives, especially during the production of the carbon effect by the two A.S.A.P. Aviation partners. The canvas representing the carbon fibers there again required a perfect understanding of the low-pressure airbrush work. Walter Maurer and Martin Dippel then focused all their talent on completing this complicated texture and three-dimensional finish. To complete the work and bring it together as a whole, the team of painters applied an “ultra-glossy” finish. “The superposition of a metallic tint and a very glossy finish gives this aircraft an exceptional effect.  It changes the dominant color based on the positioning of the sun. It gives the tones a subtle look, in particular on the engine nacelles,” states D. Wolff.  In addition to the “chameleon” effect, the French designer chose to draw the eye to several very specific areas. To showcase this livery combining various shades of gray, he opted for a yellow pantone in order to highlight the various technical markings on the twinjet. A shade that is reminiscent of the logo of the company managed by the owner and reproduced near the access door. For the designer, “the yellow security markings are perfectly integrated with all the aircraft tones. They were designed in advance and are an integral part of the livery. In addition to the aesthetic aspect, these instructions were above all perfectly visible and are part of the framework of directions issued by the authorities for the required and security markings.”

Beyond its complexity, Carboneum’s livery will remain for the designer and his partners a considerable artistic and technical feat. In this respect, the director of the Happy Design Studio concluded that this livery had “led all teams to surpass themselves through a desire for perfection upheld by each of the participants. It was indeed a major challenge: the success of a complex and exceptional livery that will become a veritable reflection of the brand showcasing the skills of the various participants”. A wager that appears to have paid off.

By Didier Wolff

© photos : Sebastien Ognier • RUAG • Sébastien Brillais