Designing Gulf Air's new Boeing 787 business class suites

By David Flynn, June 1 2018
Designing Gulf Air's new Boeing 787 business class suites

Gulf Air's new Boeing 787 begins flying between Bahrain and London on June 15 and introduces an all-new business class seat for the middle-east airline.

It’s the well-regarded Apex Suite also flown by Japan Airlines and Korean Air, but with a few twists from UK-based design consultancy Tangerine.

Raised privacy panels were added to the 26 business class suites, with Tangerine working closely with Boeing “to ensure these were as high as possible whilst meeting tight line of sight visibility regulations for the crew” explains Tangerine creative lead Daniel Flashman.

The panels feature a 3D sculpted surface inspired by the 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,” Flashman says.

Tangerine also made several functional modifications to the Gulf Air’s Dreamliner business class seat.

The entrance way to the window seat incorporates a flip-down foot rest (fastened by a specially-sourced magnetic latch) which also improves the bed space for the window side passenger.

“Stacking the armrest and central console, as well as modifying the shape of the back-shell, significantly improves the armrest space,” Flashman adds.

It’s all about the detail

“We wanted to express opulence and sophistication, which for us, was all about detail," Flashman says.

The cabin trim and finish were inspired by the materials and craftsmanship of Bahrain’s artisans and the country's traditional sport of falconry, with a sophisticated contrast of dark materials and gold accents and elegant detailing.

Rich brown leathers, evocative of a falconry glove, are used on the seat headrests, arm caps and the business class footstool, with stitching and detailing to create an elegant and sophisticated finish.

The pattern from the suite’s privacy panels is repeated in different scales in the upholstery fabric, and again on the inner lining, to tie all the elements of the suite subtly together.

The suites are outlined by a sweeping almond-gold trim which not only draws the eye but subtly echoes the airline’s new 'falcon wing tip' branding.

"The new cabin design carves a distinctive place for Gulf Air in the market, elevating the customer experience to new heights," says Matt Round, Tangerine Chief Creative Officer.

"The result is a completely updated flying experience that is elegant, sophisticated and quintessentially Bahraini."


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Dec 2016

Total posts 31

Gulf Air is one of those airlines that has the potential to become something far greater, and this is a step in the right direction

Gulf used to be THE airline in the Middle East before three of the four owner states sold them out. I hope finally GF can get back to some of its former glory.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Mar 2018

Total posts 16

These seats are what BA should have implemented, not the current 'stare into a stranger's eyes' layout.

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