Gulf Air unveils its Dreamliner business class


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.

The business class suites are defined by a sweeping almond gold trim that subtly echoes the falcon wing tip detail developed by Saffron for the branding (around the seat number, for example). As passengers settle into the space, the finer details of the trim and finish will catch their attention

“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.”

Take a video walkthrough of the new Gulf Air cabins HERE.

Seat customization

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.”

The 3D sculpted panels in the seats subtly alter in appearance as the natural and LED lighting within the cabin changes during flight

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.

Partridge shares her thoughts on trends in color, trim and finish in our forecast HERE.

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.”

The falcon, regarded in Bahrain as a symbol of courage, perseverance and freedom, has been the symbol of Gulf Air since the airline began operations in the 1950s. For the latest evolution of the logo, Saffron staff studied the anatomy and movements of falcons in their natural environment and commissioned illustrator Martijn Rijven to bring this vision to life. See HERE for a video explaining the new visual language of Gulf Air

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About Author


Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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