Skip to content


Show navigation

Acumen Etihad Press Release


For the last five years, this has undoubtedly been Acumen’s largest contract that we couldn’t talk about, but now Etihad Airways have revealed an entire overhaul of its on-board accommodation, poised to rival the world’s most luxurious private jets – completely re-imagining and redefining air travel.

“Etihad Airways has just unveiled the latest upgrades aboard it’s A380 and B787 and it blows the competition away – far away” FOX NEWS

We have worked together to help Etihad create the most highly customised and revolutionary layouts in aviation history. From expansive private living quarters, to full length wardrobes, mini-bars and double beds – introducing un-paralleled space, comfort and design innovation.

“A product so outlandishly luxurious that the world’s jetsetters are left with no question as to who’s leading the in-flight glitz game” CNN

The Residence

An exclusive 125 square foot, three-room cabin located on the upper deck at the front of the A380, complete with a private bathroom, living room and bedroom with full length wardrobe. The world’s first VIP offer on a commercial aircraft.

The Apartments

At 39 square feet, the Apartments are the largest first class spaces in the sky, set within the world’s first ever single aisle cabin layout. Exclusive to the A380, each suite has a separate seat and bed (some doubles), personal vanity unit and the highest privacy doors in their class. This highly original  layout is patent pending.

B787 First Class Suites

These suites boast huge living space around the passenger thanks to an innovative curved-aisle configuration. Private suites (some doubles) have powered ottomans, wardrobes and mini-bars.

Business Studio

With living space to rival most first class seats, business studio offers beds of over 80”, privacy dividers and aisle access for all.

Economy Smart Seat

Far from a last resort, new fixed-wing headrests offer maximum privacy, space and comfort.


“Acumen has been an integral part of the Etihad Design Consortium, playing a crucial role in bringing to reality Etihad Airways’ vision of sophisticated flying. From the first blue-sky concept designs, through to the development of the conceptual kinematics and product styling, we have relied on their expertise as innovative seat designers to set a new benchmark in luxury air travel”







Notes to the editor

Content below: 1. Acumen company Biog/ 2. Role in Etihad Contract/ 3. Acumen’s big break in the aviation sector/ 4. Acumen’s USP/ 5. Our most exciting current newsworthy products/ 6. Clients / 7. Contact Details

  1. 1.       Acumen Design Associates: was founded by Ian Dryburgh (CEO) in 1981, Acumen has become a multi-award winning London based design consultancy specialising in product and transport design. Acumen Innovations (subsidiary arm) also has founding interests (ownership) in Life Science and FMCG companies soon to be publicised.
  2. 2.       Role in the Etihad Contract: Acumen took full responsibility for all aspects of the seat design and development for the entire aircraft– The Residence, The Apartments, Business Studio and The Economy Smart seat. Our service offer encompassed blue-sky concept designs and layouts, through to the development of the conceptual engineering and product styling, to managing the suppliers through to delivery. Acumen are named inventors for all elements of the new seat designs which are currently patent pending.
  3. 3.       Acumen’s big break in the aviation sector: The ‘Bed In The Sky’ for British Airways – project began in 1994, and launched in 1996. Prior to the bed in the sky, aircraft seating was little more than standard forward facing seats with seat-width and seat-pitch being the only real product differentiators.

The highly original “herringbone” layout was invented by Acumen and subsequently patented, becoming the first-ever lay-flat seat-to-bed product in aviation history.


Given Ian’s (Acumen CEO) passion as a sailor, the surrounding multi-functional seat and furniture was greatly inspired by yacht design. The product won all the major global design awards, including being voted product of the decade by designweek and became a flagship product to promote British Exports for the DTI overseas. This ground-breaking product revolutionised the aircraft interiors industry and blazed the trail for the lay-flat aircraft seating market as we know it today. The Bed In The Sky boasts eight patents and achieved 50% yield increase and return on investment two years ahead of schedule. Acumen quickly became the go-to consultancy for the world’s leading airlines.

  1. 4.       What is Acumen’s USP – What makes us stand out from the other design consultancies?

Acumen is committed to innovation, and has a reputation for delivering highly original products and layouts which are often patentable. Our ideas have a high ‘conversion-rate’ from paper to commercially successful sustainable products – whether it’s in aviation or product design. We have more patented airline products flying than any of our competitors (fifteen plus to date). Creating brand-new seating layouts and original design features offers airlines real brand differentiation over and above graphics and styling, and we believe is the only way to break the industry paradigms and shake things up! BA and Etihad are great examples of this level of innovation changing the landscape. A high percentage of our staff are trained automotive designers with specialist design experience in automotive, product, marine and rail. Given the sheer volume of major airline contracts completed over the years (in excess of twenty), inevitably Acumen have acquired a knowledge and experience of aviation certification and engineering which is second to none.

  1. 5.       Our most exciting, news-worthy current projects:

Viva We are currently in negotiations with one of the world’s largest airlines to be the launch customer for our own business class seat. “Viva” which has been designed and patented by Acumen was launched at the Hamburg Interiors Expo this year. A clever pairing of in-line seats with angled seats allows all passengers individual aisle access and a fully flat bed in a high density cabin.


Ora The world’s first ever round paper towel – co-invented by Acumen, bringing the first genuine shake up to the kitchen towel sector since it started. Being stacked conically, the towels eliminate the need for an inner cardboard tube, allowing the customer a one-hand grab . Currently on sale exclusively through Tesco.


FireFly device stimulates the perineal nerve which in turn contracts the calf muscle creating a substantial increase in blood circulation. Now endorsed by the NHS, these simple disposable devices have been proven to provide a number of beneficial effects such as the prevention of DVT, accelerated wound healing, enhanced athletic performance and muscle recovery.


  1. 6.       Clients include: British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, Air Canada, Delta Air Lines, Jet Airways, Airbus, Goodrich
  2. 7.       Contact: Anthony Harcup| Associate| Acumen Design Associates|


Detailed product descriptions and additional photography available on request.

Acumen Design Associates website: