Tangerine’s cabin interior design captures the heart of Southwest Airlines
LONDON, 02 February 2024 – Southwest Airlines announces its redesigned aircraft cabin interior created by world-leading strategic design consultancy, Tangerine. The all-new interior has been designed to respond to the priorities of Southwest’s customers present and future, following an iterative design process that included passengers. Southwest will introduce the Boeing 737 cabin design in early 2025.
Tangerine was tasked with creating a new cabin interior design that would be distinctive in the competitive US domestic and transcontinental markets, while also communicating Southwest’s legendary brand in a way that brings Customers comfort.
The design consultancy won a competitive international pitch process, in which it presented a range of options to the Southwest team illustrating how the airline could build on its heritage and communicate its maverick spirit in the refresh of its cabin interior.
“We needed to help Southwest stand out amongst other US carriers”, said Matt Round, tangerine’s Chief Creative Officer. “Our proposal expressed the unmistakable energy of the airline and gave the cabin interior environment more heart”.
After being awarded the contract, representatives of Tangerine’s London studio travelled to Southwest’s HQ in Dallas for a two-week immersion trip to speak with employees from across the business: Marketing and Customer Experience, Communications, Inflight Crew, Engineering, Sustainability, and more, including the CEO. These conversations instilled the design team with valuable insights into how the cabin interior design could contribute to the success of the business and help achieve Southwest’s goal of ‘being the most loved, most efficient and most profitable airline’.
Tangerine then held a series of workshops and one-on-one interviews with existing and prospective Southwest customers. Research themes covered passengers’ perceptions of colour, aspects of comfort, and their aspirations for the onboard experience. The key priorities of Southwest’s passengers were identified as a space to feel calm and cosy, while also having a sense of energy. These insights shaped how Tangerine would respond through its creative process.
To test the concepts, Southwest and Tangerine took a rigorous approach including Customer workshops, quantitative research, 2D and 3D mockups, and collaborative reviews with Leadership in order to understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of each concept.
The chosen design route was based on a concept that brings a calming sense of nature into the cabin with a look and feel that is distinctly Southwest. In bringing the design to life, Tangerine worked closely with Southwest’s Supply Chain and Technical Operations teams to conduct many rounds of physical sampling, including pattern, colour, and material to ensure the right tonality was achieved in the cabin while maintaining a reliable operation in service. Details of the cabin feature RECARO economy seats in a pattern evocative of rays of sunlight falling on surfaces linking back to Customer feedback of connecting to nature to bring a sense of calmness.
Southwest brand colours are communicated throughout the cabin in deep blue tones, with a newly introduced sky blue accent. The airline’s instantly recognisable Southwest heart is debossed on headrests and subtly emerges from the carpet’s fluid woven pattern.
Over the 18-month programme, tangerine got to the soul of Southwest. By understanding both its business objectives and the special place that the brand holds in its customers’ minds, the design was confirmed to be the right fit for Southwest and its passengers.
“By working closely with Southwest and all suppliers involved, we were able to ensure the design intent was executed in the cabin to the highest possible quality. The stunning result is a testament to what can be achieved through a collaborative spirit from all those involved”, reflects Round.
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