The impact of plants and flowers onboard

Sincere, creative, passionate, fun and determined are all appropriate adjectives to describe Barbara Bressem at Dauerflora. Jon Ingleton spent some time with her to find out about building green

The impact of plants and flowers onboard
A photograph from Dauerflora's portfolio demonstrating how plans can enhance cruise ship interiors

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2017 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Dauerflora’s first foray into the marine business was in 1996 for AIDA through Partner Ship Design. “They’d heard about us and asked if we could build palm trees around pillars and supply hedges,” says company partner and managing director Barbara Bressem. “And so we did.”

From this unexpected entry point, the company has built an enviable reputation, with over 180 successful cruise ship installations. Flexibility has proven key to the company’s success: “No two projects are the same, but we can adapt to any working practice – building solutions from sketches or finished design plans,” Bressem explains. She gives the distinct impression that the company is an easy partner, able to work as part of a team or alone with equally impressive results.

Bressem outlines the breadth of the company’s portfolio beyond the traditional fresh, preserved and artificial flowers and plants. “Over the years, we’ve built and perfected a lot of technical solutions for a broad range of speciality products, including trees, green walls, Christmas decorations, hedges and much more.”

The technical challenge for Dauerflora, like many other interior disciplines, is posed by the movement of the ship. “Not just from the vibrations, but the pitch and roll of the ship,” says Bressem. “Every fixture and fitting has to be entirely secure; there is no room for error with this requirement.”

Essentially, Dauerflora either has, or can build, almost every conceivable plant and source every imaginable accessory – another compelling justification for its market-leading position. But Bressem says that technical competence alone is not enough. “Good communication is paramount – between us, the yard, the designer and the owner. We always make it work and these joint projects are a lot of fun.”

The fit-out phase of a cruise newbuild project represents the culmination of 12 months’ work and Dauerflora is equally fastidious at this stage of the job. “When we’re onboard we try to be as invisible as possible, allowing all of the other trades to move efficiently around us,” says Bressem. “For a standard project we might have four to six people onboard for one or two weeks. For a bigger project, on AIDA ships, for example, we could be onboard for up to three months with 10-12 people.”

This discreetness is a major selling point for annual maintenance contracts, introduced by the company to extend the life of its products and keep costs down for clients. “Some see the value in preventative maintenance where we might have just one person onboard for three or four days a year for professional cleaning and small repairs,” Bressem explains.

With refurbishments only occurring every five to ten years fashion has to move at a more sedate pace at sea, but Dauerflora is well placed to counsel its clients about choices that will endure. “We are curious about design trends and we have eyes everywhere,” Bressem says, explaining that ongoing training and research are a core discipline within the company. “In floristry in particular, the trend is currently towards European contemporary styles… lots of straight lines.” Other trends have stimulated a greater demand for green walls and buffet decorations. “Food tastes so much nicer when it is well presented,” Bressem says with a very knowing smile.

Overall, Bressem believes that Dauerflora is memorable because “people perceive it as a company that you can have confidence in and one that you know will do whatever is necessary to get the job done to a high standard – delivering unrivalled products and outstanding technical, design and implementation services.”

It seems that the liberal use of both artificial and real plants as a decorative feature inspires a positive environmental association with passengers and therefore bestows a telling gesture about the conservation credentials of the owner. As the travelling public gets progressively more engaged with sustainable tourism, owners will seek out every competitive advantage. During this transition it is very likely that the balance will lean towards the real thing, but for now it is clear that artificial plants are better than none at all. Regardless, Dauerflora will thrive with Bressem at the helm as the industry increasingly appreciates the story that plants can tell about a ship’s intentions towards environmental stewardship. Genius.

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Jon Ingleton
By Jon Ingleton
Tuesday, February 27, 2018