How De Jorio Design International is evolving interior design

Marco de Jorio tells Lindsay James about the changes he’s witnessed over the years and explains why he’s excited about the future

How De Jorio Design International is evolving interior design
De Jorio Design International created the promenade on MSC Meraviglia

This article was first published in the 2018 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Over the past 18 years, Marco de Jorio has earned himself an enviable reputation as one of the cruise industry’s mainstays for top-end interior design. It’s easy to see why: creative talent is in his blood. Born in Rome in 1962 to renowned architect Giuseppe de Jorio, he studied at the University of Architecture in Genoa and Rome, before going on to work for his father’s firm Studio De Jorio.

“During the first 15 years or so of my career, I experimented with every kind of naval project going, working on cruise ships, yachts and ferries and establishing my own footprint in the industry,” de Jorio explains. “The technical experience I gathered during that time was absolutely fundamental to my success.”

In 2000, alongside his father and brother, he founded De Jorio Design International (DJDI). The company was soon putting its name to a number of award-winning designs, including the entire architectonic project of the Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV), comprising eight ships. DJDI then went on to design the interior for four new high-speed, new generation cruise ferries built by Fincantieri for the Greek company Minoan Lines, before working on vessels for Tirrenia, Grimaldi Group, Cruise Roma and Cruise Barcelona, to name but a few.

Before long, de Jorio was hired as technical advisor for MSC Cruises – a turning point in his career that would see him fundamentally reverse the interior design trend of so-called ‘Las Vegas style’ to something far more contemporary and elegant.

“We came to the realisation that elegance doesn’t come from adding more every time,” he says. “It’s about getting the relationship between the different elements just right. Adding more can result in something that is too busy and confusing. By reducing the number of elements, you can get far more out of a design. It’s like modern art: less is more. We’re reinventing a new lexicon in design.”

Today 14 of MSC’s ships feature de Jorio’s hallmark Italian design. Whether it’s a Swarovski staircase, a walnut-panelled coffee bar or a plush 1,000-seat theatre, de Jorio has a talent for creating a modern-day interpretation of traditional cruising glamour.

Reflecting on his past successes, de Jorio says that he’s witnessed some extraordinary changes in cruise ship interior design over the years. “Gone are the days where cruises attracted a specific cohort of people,” he explains. “Today we have to come up with designs that suit everyone – young and old, rich and poor. Most importantly, they need to create truly memorable moments. We pay a lot of careful attention to setting the right mood with our designs.”

Indeed, de Jorio says that many clients are asking for new sentiments and emotions to be emulated through a ship’s interior. “We are always looking for ways to offer a different interpretation of a space through a design,” he says. “It’s important to constantly surprise guests.”

This might be accomplished by linking two different areas with one structural element. “It’s a mistake to consider a ship as a set of different things,” de Jorio says. “Instead the design should be fluid, with animated elements that draw the eye from one area to another to create an inviting dynamic.

“It’s like being inside a fabulous sculpture,” he continues. “As you move inside the work of art – from the atrium to the casino to the piazza – there should not be a cut off from one room to another, but instead a level of continuity that provides interest and captures the passenger’s imagination.”

All of this has to be done with shorter lead times than in the past. “We used to be given nine months or more to implement a design, but today we’re lucky if we get six,” de Jorio says. “That’s why we’re seeing a move towards pre-fabrications. Nowadays most public areas and cabins are created separately and then assembled at the end.”

Effective collaboration is key to succeeding in this new operating environment. “Over the last three years or so we’ve worked on projects with more and more third parties – competitors even – to ensure our designs are properly implemented. It’s a crucial part of our work today – we need to work effectively with all links in the chain. It’s something we’re very good at.”

It’s an approach that de Jorio believes will see DJDI long into the future. “If we want to stay successful then we need to evolve,” he says. Thankfully, there’s no signs of him resting on his laurels. With a number of exciting projects underway, de Jorio’s passion for design is at an all time high. “It’s a wonderful time to be in the business,” he says. “There’s something very satisfying about coming up with new ideas and seeing them translate into a finished product.”

MSC Belissima is a fine example of how de Jorio is constantly pushing boundaries. The latest ship in MSC’s fleet will be delivered next year and features a 96-metre promenade covered by a giant 480-square-metre LED screen which acts a digital sky. At the touch of a button passengers can witness inspiring vistas, sunrises, sunsets and starry nights.

Meanwhile, the designs are being finalised on MSC’s World Class fleet of ships, the first of which will be delivered in 2022. Dubbed ‘the world’s most modern and technologically advanced cruise ships’, de Jorio is keeping the design elements under wraps. “All I can say is that I’m truly excited about this project,” he says. “The ship will see an evolution in interior design – it won’t be like anything you’ve seen before.”

And this is just the start of things to come. “As well as ships getting bigger and better than ever, we’ll also see more specialised ships entering the market,” de Jorio says. “As new markets like Asia garner more appeal, there will be demand for medium-sized ships that are really targeted towards a specific clientele. I’m looking forward to meeting the challenges that this type of interior design might bring.”

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Lindsay James
By Lindsay James
Monday, November 26, 2018