How Stena Line creates inspired interiors for its ferries

Per-Ola Jonnerheim shares how modern Scandinavian design reflects the brand's core values

How Stena Line creates inspired interiors for its ferries
The combination of colours, materials and lighting makes Stena Visions's Pure Nordic Spa a relaxing space for passengers

By Guest |

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.

Our ambition at Stena Line is to connect Europe in a sustainable way. Sustainability is one of the core values that runs throughout the company and the modern, Scandinavian-style interior we have created on our vessels reflects that. We use the best materials and we think about longevity in everything we do. Our goal is that when passengers explore the ships, they recognise that we’re a brand that takes care when it comes to interior design, materials and colours.

Sustainability is a key concern for consumers and the industry and it’s made a big change to the way we approach interior design. Stena Line has always had beautiful ships, but in the past, we haven’t had an umbrella point of view for a signature Stena Line interior design across the vessels. Since joining the company six years ago, one of my tasks has been to create that through interior design that considers sustainability and how it links to consumer tastes and behaviours. We’re proud to be a Swedish company from Gothenburg, so even if we are making a modern ship, we include a thread of Scandinavian design throughout the vessel.

In the past year, I’ve been championing the design style guide to deliver that design vision and I’ve had the opportunity to reach every vessel. Executing that style guide will take some time. As a sustainable company we don’t want to throw out materials that are perfectly fine. As a result, the new style guide will be applied whenever a ship needs an upgrade or its décor and materials need replacing, rather than updating them one by one. Gradually, over the next five years or so, all our vessels will have the new design style in place.

We work with a lot of different yards to make that vision a reality, and it’s crucial to give them a very clear brief and make sure they understand the heart of what we do and our language in design. Thanks to this, the projects we have done so far have all delivered great results, even when we’re working with different builders and yards. We’ve also worked with interior designers such as Jopta, a small company that I have great respect for, to develop this vision.

Our next step, which we have been working on for the past three or four years, is the new vessels arriving from China in the next year. We want to deliver amazing ferry transportation, but these are not cruise ships. They are fantastic, useful transportation ferries filled with great concepts, outlets and a variety of things for guests to do. Clever design from my colleagues has laid the foundation for those of us working with interior design to utilise the space in a great way.

We have many new concepts entailing different colours, materials and furnishings – for example, we have cool new concepts for relaxing and quiet areas, with new design and an earthy atmosphere. But for me perhaps the most exciting element is the red thread which will create an interesting and inspirational movement from one concept to the next. The vitality of our vessels is what I’m most proud of.

Stena Line is known for its innovation and it’s a huge privilege to be part of that heritage. We spent time onboard talking to customers and crew to come up with our latest concepts, but increasingly we’re able to make improvements based on science – such as digitally monitoring customer flows – as well as on emotions. It may seem cheaper and easier to follow what others have done, but we love creating the most inspired ferry transportation and we want to make a statement. We want our guests to think “wow, this is fantastic!”

The payback for that investment comes partly from its impact on passengers’ spending. We have recently updated some of our retail shops to provide more capacity and we expect at least 10% growth from that investment.

On the food side, we invest heavily in sustainability and ecological ingredients are driving our menus now. We have a big commitment that all food on a Stena Line vessel is freshly prepared and cooked onboard for our guests, whether they want a Rainforest Alliance coffee with a cinnamon bun, the perfect Swedish buffet, or an à la carte dinner. It’s classic food based on good ingredients at an affordable price, and a growing number of guests appreciate that.

Per-Ola Jonnerheim is head of Group Onboard Services at Stena Line

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