Studio DADO: sparking creativity in interior design

Greg Walton, CEO and founding partner at the Miami-based firm, explains the industry’s biggest trends and gives us insight into the firm’s creative process

Studio DADO: sparking creativity in interior design

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.

What are the components of a good design brief for a new cruise project? 
It is our firm belief at Dado that the basis for good design is fully understanding who the end users or guests are. With this information, we’re able to take what we know about the brand pillars and operational requirements of the client. We then fuse the needs of both guest and client together to produce the perfect space and result. Before we ever put pen to paper, we conduct our research and make sure to find out all direct and indirect factors – we call this the program for the design.

What distinct phases do you follow from conceiving to completing a design scheme? 
The basic design phases are programming, concept, schematic design, design development, documentation, implementation and, finally, delivery. We apply and follow this system with each and every project to ensure a thorough, detailed, quality process. Some clients only ask us to go as far as design development or documentation of the design, but these phases vary depending on the shipyard we are working with.

Where do you go for your inspiration and ideas?
Sources like Pinterest and other web-based seeds of inspiration have, we feel, brought about a certain sameness in today’s design environment. We like to reach into our own minds and experiences to spark our creative process. Whether it’s international travel, fashion we’ve spotted in a store window, automobile design, industrial design – or even nature itself – we constantly strive to create design visions that have a definite story to tell.

How do you ensure that your work effectively conveys your client’s brand values?
By following our tried-and-true processes mentioned above, we’re able to ensure a result that meets and often exceeds client expectations. Before we start any design, we delve into sessions with the brand executives and marketing teams. There’s no substitute for preparation.

What metrics should clients apply to assess a design before signing it off?
General questions our designers ask clients to ask themselves are: Does the space meet the operational requirements? Does it support the brand’s pillars and message? Does it generate revenue? Does it create unnecessary inventory? Will the materials and finishes hold up to the constant use? Keeping the theme of return-oriented results in mind allows both us and the client to maintain the delicate balance between art and functionality.

How do you judge your own work, both pre and post-delivery? 
We think it’s only fair to ask ourselves the same questions we have our clients answer. Aligning the answers to these imperative questions allows for very little surprise – and in design, lack of surprise is a good thing. We also judge our designs by assessing if every component of the design supports the concept or the story. Lost-lasting design, in an artistic, durable and practical sense, is also something we look for in our own work – does this project stand the test of time? 

What’s the buzz in the Studio DADO offices about at the moment?
The buzz in our office is, quite literally and figuratively, the music we play. After recently relocating, we decided to really set the tone of our new space and get some turntables dedicated to playing all styles and genres of music. We ask visitors, clients and vendors – anyone really! – to bring their favourite album. It’s a source of inspiration and a quick way to get a peek into someone’s mind, soul and artistic taste. As a house-warming gift, we got each of the four partners an album from their favourite singer. All of this has led to an intensified appreciation for all types of music, and an understanding of how music influences, informs, and plays a role in our creative process.

Do you have a gut feeling or follow any market indicators that give any insights into future trends and fashions that we can look forward to?
Technology is the biggest trend affecting design. The constant evolution of technology-driven tools is single-handedly mapping how we as designers deliver the design, and how the user interacts with the space.  Millennials and Generation Z have always had technology at their fingertips – it’s second nature to them – and as the Millennials become the biggest populous of travellers, their innate demand for technology becomes clearer and clearer.

A positive trend is today’s careful and mindful approach to a design’s environmental impact. From plastic consumption to the food we eat, the consumer is demanding this change and corporations are responding. From Starbucks and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines announcing the elimination of plastic straws, to Ford announcing that it will focus on manufacturing batteries for electric cars, change is happening – and we couldn’t be more excited to be part of the movement.

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Lindsay James
By Lindsay James
Tuesday, February 5, 2019