The world's first fully lie-flat bed in business class
With the global economy lurching in the late 1990s, it was a difficult time for the aviation industry, and competition was fierce. British Airways were looking for a strong point of difference that would give them a business advantage, challenging us to “Find us the holy grail of airline travel.” The result was truly revolutionary, an audacious design solution that would stun the commercial aviation industry, redefine the business market and become a profit engine for the airline.
- Product Design & Innovation
- Trend forecasting & Vision setting
- Insight research
- Design engineering
- CMF design
The project required an understanding of the psychology of the business passenger as much as the practical constraints of an airline, and passengers told us that they yearned for the freedom to move as they wished. We mobilised our whole team with fervent energy and dedication to explore countless seating concepts and layouts. Gathering insights from adjacent industry sectors to envision how to best meet the needs and aspirations of business travelers, who want to arrive rested and fresh after long haul flights.
Central to a good customer experience was the opportunity to get proper rest while flying, and the key to this was lying flat. The problem was, how to deliver it?
We created a range of solutions that were ahead of their time, but it was our ‘Lounge In The Sky’ concept which captured BA’s board’s imagination, ignited the interest of the press, and sent British Airways’ share price sky-rocketing. The artistic impression first revealed showed a completely new way to configure cabin space, with yin-yang configured lie-flat seats that had dividing screens and a movable footstool, giving each passenger the freedom to move, dine, work, sleep and socialise alone or as a pair.
No stone was left unturned to design the best possible solution and prove the viability of the concept. An initial uneasiness raised in passenger surveys about the prospect of flying backwards was overcome through research flights with the RAF to prove that a negative perception of journey sickness with flying backwards was a misplaced belief.
“Project Dusk” – the first generation of the Club World seat design, was an audacious design solution that stunned the commercial aviation industry. For the first time ever lie-flat seats were paired in a fore and aft configuration, while crucially protecting 8 seats across in the cabin to maintain a dense seat count. The project was an immediate success, achieving a full ROI of £200,000,000 well within the first 12 months of flying. The innovative and patented format was upgraded by us in 2006, cleverly introducing 25% more passenger space and delivering a significant increase in comfort. The design has become synonymous as the hallmark of innovation for British Airways, flying in service for over 20 years. For it we won the prestigious DBA Grand Prix prize for Design Effectiveness, which is testament to its groundbreaking commercial success.
ROI in less than 12 months
We regard tangerine as an agency at the very pinnacle of cabin and seat design and we’ve had a great relationship working hand-in-hand with them.
Peter Cooke, Design Lead at British Airways