Tissue cell polarity plays a major role in plant and animal development. We propose that a fundamental building block for tissue cell polarity is the process of intracellular partitioning, which can establish individual cell polarity in the absence of asymmetric cues. Coordination of polarities may then arise through cell-cell coupling, which can operate directly, through membrane-spanning complexes, or indirectly, through diffusible molecules. Polarity is anchored to tissues through organisers located at boundaries. We show how this intracellular partitioning-based framework can be applied to both plant and animal systems, allowing different processes to be placed in a common evolutionary and mechanistic context.