Bahrain’s national carrier, Gulf Air, has unveiled the results of a two-year rebrand and investment project which includes its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, a new visual identity and strategy, and new aircraft interiors schemes and hardware.
The airline appointed the Tangerine design studio for the inflight experience part of the project, with the Saffron brand consultancy handling the pre-flight elements (including everything from airport lounges, to frequent flyer cards, to the booking system GUI, to business cards and stationery) and corporate identity work including the updated livery. The overarching theme was a ‘smart with heart’ brand identity, referring to the airline’s focus on innovation and the warmth and friendliness of the Bahraini people.
“We wanted to express opulence and sophistication, which for us, was all about detail,” said Tangerine’s creative lead, Daniel Flashman, of the cabin design work. “Every touchpoint visible to the passenger has been carefully considered, almost to the point of obsession so that the overall effect transforms the platform seat into a luxurious flying experience.”
The platform seat in question on the airline’s new Dreamliners is the in-line Serenity model from Rockwell Collins, which has been customized in a collaboration between Tangerine, Rockwell Collins and Gulf Air.
A key part of the customization work involved raising the privacy panels to create a greater sense of peace and seclusion within the seat. “We had to work closely with Boeing to ensure these [panels] were as high as possible whilst meeting tight line-of-sight visibility regulations for the crew,” explained Flashman. “These panels feature a 3D sculpted surface, inspired by the iterative geometric forms found in Bahraini architecture. When the cabin lighting strikes the surface, it casts shadows onto the textured surface, dappling the light to create an intimate and relaxing suite.”
Further customization work on the seat sees the incorporation of a flip-down footrest, which is held in place with a specially-sourced magnetic latch when not in use, making access to the window seats a little easier.
Other comfort enhancements in the 26-seat business class cabin (branded Falcon Gold) include an increase in bed space for window seat passengers, and an increase in armrest space, achieved by stacking the armrest and central console, and modifying the shape of the backshell.
Trim and finish
The cabin trim and finish are high quality, as one would expect, with inspiration coming from the materials and craftsmanship of Bahrain’s artisans, as well as the nation’s’ love of falconry, with the country’s contemporary culture reflected through the clean, flowing lines of the cabin and the use of contrasting dark materials and gold accents, and elegant detailing.
This part of the project was handled by Emma Partridge, Tangerine’s head of color, material and finish, who worked to give these traditional Bahraini influences a modern twist to reflect the contemporary Bahrain. This modern feel has been achieved through the use of rich brown leathers, inspired by those used on falconry gloves, which are applied on the seat headrests, arm caps and the footstool, with fine stitching and detail to reflect the country’s artisans and create a high class, high-quality finish.
The pattern from the privacy panels is repeated in different scales on the upholstery fabrics, and again on the inner lining, to tie together all the elements of the suite. Gulf Air’s falcon motif inspired a feather pattern on the curtains, as well as an iridescent graphic on the bulkheads that glints as passengers pass through the cabin.
“The new cabin design carves a distinctive place for Gulf Air in the market, elevating the customer experience to new heights,” stated Matt Round, Tangerine’s chief creative officer. “We curated the design carefully across multiple seating products and aircraft, including the B787, A320 and A321, to ensure that a cohesive brand and customer experience is established across every touchpoint of Gulf Air’s service. The result is a completely updated flying experience that is elegant, sophisticated and quintessentially Bahraini.”