Balancing exceptional design against safe function

Cruise industry members face the challenge of keeping passengers and crew safe while delivering ships with stylish interiors and uninterrupted experiences

Balancing exceptional design against safe function
Bourne Group is considering how to bridge the need for protection with minimised disruption, says Zach Norris

Historically, the designer in me would grapple with the idea of an over-abundance of signage and barriers on cruise ships, but they will be a necessary part of cruising in the post-Covid-19 world.

Most of the materials that we use to manufacture our custom signage are also used to produce protective barriers and screens. As such, at the onset of the pandemic, Bourne Group was able to quickly pivot to producing and supplying face shields, protective barriers and prohibitive signage. Now that there is some light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel, we are considering how to bridge the need for protection with designs that minimise disruption to the passenger experience.

Incorporating integrated barriers into key onboard areas will be a critical part of this effort. We want passengers to be assured that they are safe, but we don’t want to make them feel that the crew is inaccessible. We want to encourage freedom onboard, but at the same time eliminate congestion.

But how do we strike this balance, particularly in areas like the atrium – the open, grand meeting point of a ship? Can this space – which is central to the cruise experience – be covered in sheets of rectangular plexiglass suspended by fishing line? What are the options to integrate these temporary structures into the existing decor, so they are both obvious and invisible?

So, the question remains: can we combine style with function? This is always the goal with newbuild or refurbishment projects, but the very nature of protective fixtures is limited and clinical. However, the short answer is yes. There are areas onboard that will need custom fixtures to maintain the magical appeal of the voyage, and there are others that will require a simple plexiglass screen.

We know the new world of cruising will be littered with protective screens and barriers. As experts in manufacturing, it is our duty to ask these questions and seek out the relationships to deliver environments that focus on the guest experience and passenger and crew protection. For example, we are currently collaborating with other organisations on custom fabricated protective barriers and shields for the cruise industry.

Zach Norris is the customer liaison director at Bourne Group

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

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By Zach Norris
03 December 2020