Inter-organisation collaboration is invaluable to the future of sustainable solutions and creating better onboard experiences, say Nguyen and Lora
Creating well-designed interior spaces on cruise ships and ferries that are beautiful and exciting for passengers, function as needed, and feature long-lasting and sustainable materials is a difficult undertaking. Inter-departmental collaboration and teamwork are key to delivering these spaces, but individuals across the marine design industry think there is potential for more expansive idea-sharing between businesses to improve design processes, highlight best practices and ultimately deliver outstanding guest experiences.
In the following pages, we share insights from interior design experts My Nguyen of Holland America Group and Aida Lora of Royal Caribbean Group about the value of mentorship in training the next generation of designers. We also ask about the importance of collaborating across organisations and seeking feedback from passengers to develop the best possible spaces, while ensuring that sustainability is at the centre of every design concept.
My Nguyen of Holland America Group discusses how sharing ideas could deliver the sustainability solutions the industry needs
Two heads are better than one, according to My Nguyen, director of interior design at Holland America Group. Nguyen believes this phrase is particularly apt when discussing design strategies for cruise ships.
“If you design in a vacuum, the result will only be as good as that single perspective,” she explains. “Brands are constantly collaborating across departments and with third parties to enhance ships. But from an industry perspective, I feel like we could do more. I would love for design firms to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and work together to provide a service that covers all of the speciality trades.”
This idea extends beyond just better design, though. “Brands have an opportunity to collaborate on topics that make a big impact, such as how to recycle in different ports and highlight specific partnerships that have developed great sustainability strategies,” says Nguyen. “When done in collaboration, these different approaches can only improve the industries’ goals and guest experiences. Guests benefit from a quality product that is created from great ideas and collaboration.”
As sustainability becomes an increasingly important part of the cruise experience, Nguyen believes cross-industry cooperation and sharing ideas could be the solution that is needed.
“Cruise brands are making sustainability a priority, but the topic is broad and can be overwhelming,” she says. “It is evident that there is great interest but people need a shared platform to learn, grow and contribute.
“The Sustainable Design Summit taking place in November 2022 is an example of collaboration between aviation, land and cruise to have open discussions and share knowledge on the topic of sustainable design. The upcoming Cruise & Ferry Sustainable Maritime Interiors report will also enable people in the passenger shipping industry to share their insights into sustainable design.”
Putting the ship in mentorship
Royal Caribbean Group’s Aida Lora outlines the importance of passenger feedback and mentorship programmes in creating better onboard interiors
Most industries require effective collaboration to ensure the successful completion of projects. According to Aida Lora, an associate of architectural design at Royal Caribbean Group, the same is true of interior design, where collaboration between design teams and project and product development teams is essential for delivering exceptional onboard spaces.
But guests and ship operators also have a role to play in this process. “A wider approach to cross-industry collaboration could have huge benefits for designers, ship operators and passengers,” says Lora. “Designers could consider real feedback from guests when designing the different interior spaces, which would also make the design research process much easier.
“Ship operators could express concerns early, which would result in better solutions, and for passengers – well, happy guests means happy designers. The goal is always to provide unforgettable guest experiences.”
Collaboration like this doesn’t just happen, though; organisations must be proactive. For example, they could offer mentorship programmes to pass on knowledge to newer designers. Some organisations have already implemented this type of initiative, says Lora. “Matching senior and junior designers is a strategy used by design firms and cruise lines to leverage internal knowledge.”
Lora is one of those leading this change, having participated in collaboration and mentorship initiatives as a senior designer. “I have had the opportunity to work with recent design graduates and junior designers in the same interior cruise project,” she says. “It was a successful learning experience for both the senior and junior designers, with the latter also achieving professional goals by addressing new challenges.”
This article was first published in the 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
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