We live in fairly interesting times it seems.
> I worked with him for six months and at the end of that, we created a suit that they are now reverse-engineering to make functional for flight.
Form over function is a pretty bold move. Clearly Elon is greatly invested in SpaceX's image. The inside of the Dragon looks like a sci-fi prop as well. Not sure if this actually has any real benefit for him. Just seems like you're shoving engineers into boxes they don't need to be in. On the other hand, when your ultimate goal is space tourism/civilian space then Apple-like marketing and image probably aren't optional. Its just odd for this long-time space watcher to start seeing industrial design and costume design be part of something that was usually a strictly nuts and bolts affair.
I suspect the space tourism market will have a lot in common with the luxury car market. People want their creature comforts and eye-candy it seems.
While super dependable, proven, spacecraft, the current Soyuz ferries are closer to U-boats inside: purely functional, clunky, and claustrophobic with exposed plumbing, wiring, and dated avionics.
This is why military ships do not hide plumbing and wiring behind wall panels.
They're also wowed by a flashy web UI without knowing what's inside.
eg: Garmin 1000, Avidyne
I like to think there's a middle-ground between the Space Shuttle's cockpit and the Dragon design. Falling back to old school switches and displays should be an option I suppose.
This kind of thinking mirrors Musk's strategy at Tesla: it's much easier to get people to step outside the box if doing so seems novel and exciting. Thus, we have cars with motorized door handles that extend and retract on command, and space capsules with big shiny touch screens.
Funnily enough, the same thing that they asked when SpaceX approached them.