Feature: The power of collective wisdom

Collaboration and cooperation are two of the key factors for success in any passenger ship interior design project. Rebecca Gibson asks representatives from across the sector to share their knowledge and expertise

Feature: The power of collective wisdom

Interior spaces on cruise ships or passenger ferries need to offer an attractive aesthetic appearance that will resonate with guests, but must also be functional, durable and designed in accordance with strict maritime safety requirements. It’s a delicate balance for the designers involved and one which is near impossible to achieve without a collaborative team.

Designers and architects, outfitters, suppliers and classification societies must be able to work together effectively to share their ideas, advice and best practices to achieve the same ultimate goal: create ships that deliver outstanding onboard experiences that exceed guest expectations. In the following pages, we reveal insights from experts across the industry into the design process, covering education, refurbishment, certification, safety standards, colour choices, material selection and much more.

Lifelong learning
Shashi Caan outlines how she advocates for designers to continually develop their design knowledge and experience through the SC Collective

Good design requires a finely balanced sense of aesthetics, meaning, function and support for improved living and quality of life, according to Shashi Caan, co-founder and leader of US- and UK-based design and architecture firm SC Collective. Caan also believes that designing is a creative and inventive act that requires designers to intentionally combine imagination, knowledge and responsibility, which is why she advocates for SC Collective’s team to continually expand its design knowledge.

“We cultivate team members who practice reflective awareness of the world around us – we want them to innately think about how each task will cumulatively give improved end results,” explains Shashi Caan, founding partner of the SC Collective. “Ensuring that each team member (regardless of experience or expertise) proactively develops an interest in the knowledge, art and craft of our work forms a strong underpinning for ongoing and extended learning. All our work requires thoughtful and step-by-step synthesis of our daily process to ensure client satisfaction and design success.”

Caan advises that designers closely follow economic, technological, environmental and scientific developments and explore how they are impacting on the global design industry.

“We look for interconnections and impetus as the basis for creating meaningful solutions to design challenges,” she says. “This helps to shape our outcomes for human advancement and behaviours, which impact the world at large. Although we keep an eye on current business and cultural trends, as well as emerging and popular ‘how to’ methodologies, we also adopt new and more efficient design processes that don’t necessarily have wholesale buy-in.”

Caan’s best piece of design advice is to focus on foundational value. “For me, this equates to the ‘meaning’ that we make for contemporary life quality, well-being and business success shaped by transformational new knowledge,” she says. “We dwell less on the prescribed or regurgitative rollouts driven by short-term solutions. Instead, we imaginatively and responsibly apply broadest best value to make a big impact and tick all creative and practical boxes for good design and business.”

Collaborative creativity
Carnival Australia’s Petra Ryberg explains why it is important for designers to listen to others and actively seek opportunities to grow and improve

When Petra Ryberg was an interior design intern in New York, USA, she received a sage piece of advice that she still recalls whenever she makes a design decision in her current role as head of design for Carnival Australia.

“One of the first things I remember our principal designer saying is: ‘You are not designing for yourself – you are designing for your client who is ultimately creating the best experience for their guests,’” she says. “That has stayed with me and I always keep the guests’ impressions, experiences and emotions in mind when I’m designing spaces for our ships.”

Perfecting the art of creating onboard spaces that resonate with guests is an ongoing process. “There are always new things to learn and ways to improve what you’re doing,” explains Ryberg. “I try to keep an open mind and find an opportunity for growth in every experience. For example, if I see a piece of art with a nice colour combination or an interesting building, I’ll add these elements to my memory bank and pull them out when I need them for a design project.”

People also provide a valuable source of information and inspiration. “We can learn a lot by listening to each other and sharing experiences to understand how another person would approach a specific challenge,” says Ryberg. “Suppliers are a wonderful source of knowledge and you can learn many new things about production processes and materials that will make it easier to create an end experience. Asking on-site contractors for feedback is also valuable.”

Once the ship is in service, Ryberg recommends that designers speak with the onboard operational teams to see how the spaces are being received by guests. “Ask how specific elements of the design are being perceived, whether the flow of the space is working well, and if there is something they think should be done differently in future projects.”

Sharing design expertise
We asked representatives from cruise lines, design and outfitting firms, and the supplier community to disclose their top tips for creating compelling interiors onboard passenger ships. Below is a list of the experts who shared their perspectives with us, which you can read in full from page 47 of the digital edition of the 2021 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors:

  • Joep Bollerman, Global Manager of Lloyd’s Register’s Passenger Ship Support Centre
  • Barbara Bressem, Managing Director of Dauerflora International
  • Chris Colvin, Marines Sales Manager at Ulster Carpets
  • Anna Jenei, CEO of Global Marine & Hotel Interiors
  • Tina Kjeldgaard, Owner at Danish Decoration
  • Petu Kummala, Senior Director of Interior Design and Architecture, Newbuilds and Refurbishments at Carnival Cruise Line
  • Bruno Lehmann, Vice President of Interior Continental - Surface Solutions at Konrad Hornschuch
  • Terry McGillicuddy, Director at Richmond International
  • Jorge Mesa, founding partner of Studio DADO
  • My Nguyen, Design Director of Holland America Group
  • Kathryn Popplestone and Erni Visser, Founders of Ethereal Blooms
  • Alun Roberts, Design Associate at SMC Design
  • Liz Schneider, Owner of Liz Schneider Interiors
  • Gary Snyder, Associate Principal at CallisonRTKL
  • Jacco van Overbeek, Director Maritime Division at Bolidt
  • Ruben Wansink, European Manager at STI Marine
  • Ross Welham, Co-Owner of Trimline
  • Andrea Zito, CEO, Swan Hellenic

This article was first published in the 2021 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
29 June 2021

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