BG Studio International: making dreams come true

President Francesca Bucci tells Jon Ingleton about how she is challenging the ordinary when it comes to designing family-friendly interiors

BG Studio International: making dreams come true
The Ultimate Family Suite is designed to encourage families to interact with one another (Image: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.)

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.

When Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) approached BG Studio International with the brief of creating “something really outrageous and out-of-the-box that would be the ultimate fun for children,” the New York City-based hospitality design firm was unwavering in its desire to deliver above and beyond expectations. 

“The client wanted something that would dazzle both children and parents,” says Bucci. “The results needed to be unexpected. Crazy even. The guiding principle was to have a suite that would make every child’s dream come true, promote interaction among family members and also enable children to explore activities alone.” 

And so the Ultimate Family Suite was born. “The inspiration came from two of my personal interests – book illustrations and drawing cartoons,” Bucci explains. “It’s always fascinating to develop a story through a character’s expressions, using light, shadow and colours – not necessarily words. One particular children’s book ‘Il gioco delle favole’ (which translates as ‘the fable play’) was instrumental to the design concept of the suite. It is a flip book with removable parts that enables you to create many different scenarios. Just like the book, the Ultimate Family Suite draws you in through a red door which opens into a red foyer; and this is where the two-storey suite and its features unfold.” 

The 1,346-square-foot suite has undoubtedly captured the things that dreams are made of. There’s a floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall, an air hockey table, large sofas, a 3D movie theatre-style room and stairs leading up to the main bedroom. That’s not forgetting the indoor slide from the children’s bedroom to the living room below.

“The slide was RCL’s idea and it’s great to have it,” Bucci says. “But we wanted something that would go above and beyond the slide. I call the slide ‘the catalyst’. It’s a feature that does not transform in itself, however it creates a series of reactions around it. For example, there’s a swing, a vertical mini golf game and a secret passage that connects the children’s room to the parents’ bedroom.”

Quite apart from a typical upscale room, Bucci says the Ultimate Family Suite is effectively a mini resort. “There is a lot going on,” she explains. “It is certainly not just a place to sleep.”

Bucci says the use of colour was fundamental to the design, in order to create an environment that is equally stimulating and relaxing. “We used a triadic colour scheme, selecting a warm orange and then two other colours that are equally spaced on the colour wheel – yellow and blue. This resulted in a scheme that offers visual contrast while retaining balance and harmony.”

The furniture, meanwhile, was chosen according to the activity zone. “We wanted all the furniture to look very residential and comfortable – not just functional,” Bucci says. 

The customised artwork comprises a two-storey mural behind the slide. “It’s a beautiful gradation of colours distributed in chromatic blocks,” Bucci explains. “Then there are oversized colourful buttons situated over the chalkboard in the dining room, a hint of pop art in the parents’ bedroom and in the children’s bathrooms, as well as a wall covering made from bottle tops in the children’s bedroom.” 

The rugs and wall-to-wall carpets have been tailor-made to match the main artwork. “The LEGO wall, slide and air hockey table are also customised,” Bucci says. 

Bucci believes that the Ultimate Family Suite represents a tide change in interior design. “While there are plenty of other suites that target families and children, they are very thematic,” she explains. “This suite is dynamic, upscale, modern and fun for both adults and kids alike.” 

The project’s success, Bucci says, is undoubtedly down to BG Studio’s 20-year history of working with RCL. “We’ve established that we can think outside the box,” she says. “We’ve proven ourselves through our work with many RCL brands: Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, TUI Cruises and, of course, Royal Caribbean International. We have designed over 30 vessels for them and more than 100 hospitality venues. I look forward to meeting the challenges that lay ahead in the years to come and hope we can continue to push the boundaries and innovate in totally new ways.” 

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Jon Ingleton
By Jon Ingleton
23 January 2019

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