An inside look at Irish Ferries’ W.B. Yeats

Jon Ingleton was in Dublin for the launch of W.B. Yeats and asked Andrew Sheen and Helen Kilmartin about her poetic interiors

An inside look at Irish Ferries’ W.B. Yeats
The angular faceted ceiling of The Lady Gregory à la carte restaurant mixes luxurious gold hues with geometric simplicity

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

Since launching in February 2019, Irish Ferries’ W.B. Yeats has been delighting passengers with her onboard spaces, engineering prowess and gentle reminders of her world-renowned Irish poet namesake. 

As the operator’s first new ferry since 2000, W.B. Yeats is brimming with innovation – such as energy-efficient LED lighting – and built-in comfort. “Passengers will feel the full benefits of the ship’s state-of-the-art engineering through unsurpassed levels of quietness and vibration,” said Andrew Sheen, managing director of Irish Ferries. “Every aspect of W.B. Yeats, including her calming interior colour schemes and hard and soft furnishings, is designed to deliver contemporary comfort. The company’s Irish heritage is reflected by Yeats’s poetry around the ship and in natural fibres where possible.”

Irish Ferries worked with Danish naval architecture and marine engineering firm OSK-ShipTech on the interior architectural design, while Dublin-based design company Minima was responsible for the aesthetics of public areas and deluxe suites. 

Both companies made many pragmatic decisions during the design process. “The finishes had to be extremely durable, so they remain modern and timeless throughout the ship’s working life,” said Helen Kilmartin, owner of Minima. “To achieve the ‘contemporary comfort’ aesthetic, we used hard-wearing materials, such as neutral blond oak and almond laminate finishes on the walls and doors, alongside beige and black carpets. We also chose beds that fit flush with the ceiling to allow the standard cabins to feel larger and less cluttered. All cabins feature neutral-toned upholstery and curtains, but the deluxe cabins also feature Foxford throws and cushions to create a dark orange or ocean blue contrast to the otherwise pared-back colour scheme.”

The ship also features large, open areas like the main reception and à la carte restaurant, which were designed with their neighbouring spaces in mind. “As some of these areas flow into each other, it was important that they had a coordinated scheme,” said Kilmartin. “For the open restaurant area, we selected fabrics in deep blue and grey with taupe fabrics and leather as OSK Shiptech’s design for Boylan’s Brasserie featured blue, sea green and taupe leather accents. The ‘Track’ carpet designed by Tom Dixon makes a contemporary, industrial statement, which is mimicked in the Vitra Softshell loose chairs.” 

The Lady Gregory à la carte restaurant is another of the ship’s “impressive yet understated” spaces. “My main sources of inspiration for this space were the Monsieur Bleu restaurant at the Palais de Tokyo art gallery and the Guy Savoy restaurant in Paris,” said Kilmartin. “We created an angular faceted ceiling in a smoky, dull gold metal. It was an important part of the project for me; I researched materials and designs that would look sleek and futuristic and worked closely with engineers to create it.”

The space oozes luxury. “Mirror panels embedded in black surroundings reflect the windows to create an atmospheric dining space,” said Kilmartin. “The dining chairs designed by Eero Saarinen for Knoll are upholstered in chocolate velvet and wine wool. One wall is covered entirely with dark glazed wine cabinets.”

Many of the room’s other features hint towards the standout ceiling; the carpet and small table vases repeat the geometric pattern. “The space was designed to invite you to linger or to move to the nearby Innisfree lounge and luxuriate in contrasting greys and warm golds and mustards at the Calacatta marble bar,” said Kilmartin. 

This colour scheme follows in The Maud Gonne bar and lounge. “This area has a mix of blues, bronze and tan leather on a chevron patterned carpet,” said Kilmartin. “The pale oak bar is underlit and the wall features Yeats’s words: “I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” This area, like the rest of the ship, is something we’re very proud of.”

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Jon Ingleton
By Jon Ingleton
Thursday, June 27, 2019