Tillberg Design of Sweden is staying ahead of the curve

Fredrik Johansson speaks to Lindsay James about how he is preventing his firm from becoming antiquated in a fast-moving industry

Tillberg Design of Sweden is staying ahead of the curve
Tillberg Design of Sweden has created the Regent Suites for Splendor of the Seas (Image: Tillberg Design of Sweden)

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Spring/Summer 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Business is undoubtedly booming for cruise ship operators at the moment. However, according to Fredrik Johansson, owner and executive project director at Tillberg Design of Sweden, this doesn’t necessarily mean that these firms are in for an easy ride. 

“I think the fact that the industry is booming is ironically also causing the biggest challenges,” he explains. “The shipowners are competing over shipyard slots, and over people having the right experience and competence. Despite the long lead times, the high demand means that the shipowners need to gather experienced newbuild teams, fast-forward a pre-contract design process and very quickly arrive at a design that we think is still relevant five to six years from now.” 

Johansson and his team are working tirelessly to help customers navigate their way through this difficult process. “Our capacity helps of course, but our biggest advantage is probably our solid experience,” he says. “We know what to focus on and prioritise in each stage of the process. We can also assist our clients in structuring the course of events, especially the new players in the field.” 

In fact, it is the process of meeting these challenges that Johansson thrives on. “Each project is exciting in its own way, but to develop a new platform in close collaboration with a client is, of course, always very exciting,” he says. “Likewise, to renew existing ships in clever and innovative ways in order to achieve maximum impact with minimum investment is also a huge thrill.” 

But doing this successfully in the future will require a slightly different approach, Johansson says. “In the months and years to come we will need to be more multi-disciplinary and responsible as designers,” he explains. “We need to dig deeper into clients’ needs and aspirations. A designer who makes the effort to really understand the client’s business will add so much more than just good looks, or a new style. They will help the client to build a stronger brand and, in turn, a stronger business.” 

Staying ahead of the curve requires Johansson and his team to keep an eye on the latest design trends and technology. “We spend a lot of time on research, seeing new places and visiting design exhibitions,” Johansson concludes. “More importantly though, we let our younger crew have a voice in our daily design process. This is not only inspiring, but also the best antidote against becoming antiquated in the fast-moving world of design.”

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Lindsay James
By Lindsay James
Monday, May 6, 2019