Martin Darbyshire Tangerine 600px

(Above: Clarity of vision is paramount for  tangerine CEO Martin Darbyshire. Image: company.)

Martin Darbyshire has been inspiring ground-breaking innovation and forward thinking design since he started tangerine in 1989 with Clive Grinyer.

Under his stewardship, tangerine has developed into a global strategic design consultancy that creates award winning solutions for internationally recognised brands such as LG, Samsung, Sky, Nikon, Cepsa, Toyota, Cathay Pacific, and Virgin Australia.

Most notably, Martin led the multi-disciplinary team that created both generations of the “Club World” business class aircraft seating for British Airways – the world’s first fully flat bed in business class, which, since its launch in 2000, has remained the profit engine for British Airways.

With studios in the UK, South Korea and Brazil, tangerine works globally, on a wide range of industry projects; from consumer products, transportation to hospitality and retail built environments.

Underpinning the design consultancy’s success is tangerine’s aim to balance creative vision with commercial reality and transformation of the customer experience. 

A 25-year association with the South Korean conglomerate LG exemplifies tangerine’s strategic design approach.

In the late 1980s, LG was looking to move into Europe market but knew their existing offer wouldn’t cut it with Western consumers.

The design consultancy helped LG move from being seen as a low-value Asian label to becoming a desirable global brand.

Darbyshire told Global Opportunity: “It’s all about clarity of vision. We’ve worked on more than 80 products for LG – from refrigerators and vacuum cleaners to mobile phones and tablets.

“The challenge was to create a ‘design language’ that would be applicable to different countries, markets, positions and price-entry-levels. The aim was to produce products that consumers want to own because they do what they want, not just what they need.”

He says the most difficult thing will always be understanding what the value of something might be in the future. Working with very different businesses in different markets, tangerine tries to guide different clients in terms of what the opportunities might be.

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Darbyshire travels regularly to the Far East, the USA, South America and throughout Europe, combining his work for tangerine with a worldwide programme of keynote speeches on innovation and design.

He’s currently a juror for the renowned Red Dot awards and served on the UKTI taskforce promoting design in China and South Korea. He is a former board member of the International Council of Industrial Designers (ICSID) and former visiting Professor at Central St Martins College of Arts and Design. He was recently appointed a trustee of the UK Design Council.