“I jumped off my chair and started running laps around the boardroom”

Cruise & Ferry catches up with one of the most popular faces in the cruise industry.

“I jumped off my chair and started running laps around the boardroom”

Studio DADO

Enzo plays a critical role in all of Studio DADO's cruise ship interior design projects

After perhaps the most challenging year the cruise industry has ever experienced, we felt that Cruise & Ferry readers might appreciate starting 2021 on a lighter note. So, we are pleased to have had the opportunity to ‘sit’ with one of the cruise industry’s most entertaining characters, Enzo. If you’ve not had the pleasure of meeting him already, we should perhaps point out that he is a canine cruiser.

What prompted your interest in cruising?
Destiny. I trained for a higher calling: to provide therapy for those most in need by offering deep comfort and a friendly face. I remember when the sons of an elderly woman contacted me to visit their mother who had dementia. They were so grateful as they said this was the first time she smiled and laughed in a long time. What a gift she was to me!

For a season, I visited men and women who became friends in hospice care. It was deeply challenging on some visits to find friends had passed on. The weight became too heavy.

So, I started going to work with Greg [Walton, founding partner at Studio DADO] and that’s when my involvement with the cruise industry began, much to my delight. One day I accompanied Greg to what is now the Royal Caribbean Group. I remember standing at the guard desk, a little nervous – clearly my presence was being questioned! But soon enough, we were in the lift heading to the second floor for a highly productive meeting. I think I went there at least one time a week for several years and I won the guards over in no time.

Another time, I was standing in the lobby and was hoping no one of importance would enter. But as soon as that thought popped into my head in walked Lisa Lutoff-Perlo [the president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises]. She was so hospitable and nice to me. No sooner than she left and in walks Richard Fain, the chairman of Royal Caribbean Group. He walked up and exclaimed: “Who is this?” I was introduced and he said: “Nice to meet you Enzo, and welcome.”

What can you tell us about Studio DADO, and Greg, that most people won’t know?
The DADO family is the funniest and craziest group of people to be with. I think that is why they are so creative. They truly have a lot of fun at what they do. They work harder than any group of people and they laugh harder. I know they all love me as just another member of the family. As for Greg, don’t ever let him get hungry or tired, and especially both – it’s like a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde scenario. And lastly, don’t mess up his travel, especially if I am flying with him.

How does your unique style influence DADO’s creative output?
Style is connection – aesthetically, emotionally, and more. And I have had a lifetime of connecting with people to provide ease. From those early days of providing therapy to now travelling the world, I am comfortable around all people. With DADO ever expanding into new verticals and new locales, my role (which is my literal heartbeat) is to break the ice and connect DADO with new faces in this amazing cruise industry.

Have you found a particularly deep connection with anyone in the industry?
I have been privileged and honoured to meet and become friends with many industry executives. Marcia Del Rio [wife of Norwegian Cruise Line’s president and CEO, Frank] lavishes me with a level of attention I cannot resist. And Robin Lindsay [Norwegian’s executive vice president of vessel operations] consistently takes me for walks during meetings (we need one-on-one time) and even lets me be executive vice president of fleet for the day, which is greatly appreciated.

And have you spent time on ships, too?
I have been on Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Explorer, Oceania Cruises’ Oceania Riviera and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Joy. Each offers guests unique experiences. Those that work on the ships have always done everything to accommodate me, including preparing me a delectable steak on Norwegian Joy.

What are your most memorable moments in the business?
The first that comes to mind is when I was still at Callison RTKL. As a practical joke, the designers decided to use me (me!) as inspiration for the design of an Italian restaurant concept for Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Edge. I guess they thought it all made sense – since I am known in English as an Italian Greyhound; however, in Italian we are called Levriero Piccolo. The clever designers decide to develop the concept around a potential mate for me and name the restaurant La Levriera Piccola. The initials of the restaurant name are LLP, which also happen to be the initials of the line’s president and CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo. Imagine me standing in the front of the boardroom at Royal Caribbean Group with the executive team (Richard Fain, Lisa, Harri Kulovaara and Kelly Gonzalez) plus the well-known designer Kelly Hoppen. All eyes were on me as the designer pitched this practical joke. I was cringing but couldn’t say a word. At least Kelly Hoppen said she liked the scheme!

Another time, I went to see the stateroom mock-ups for Princess Cruises’ Sky Princess. I arrived at the gate of Fincantieri’s Monfalcone shipyard with Greg and Mattias Eineborg of Holland America Group and when the guard looked out of his window at me there was a pause. And of course, the phone calls followed. Apparently, the guard called the head of the yard, who in turn called Mal Firouz [director of newbuild services for Princess Cruises]. I was finally admitted and hold the honour of being the first and only one of my kind ever allowed into the yard. Word must have spread because the first time I went to Fincantieri’s Marghera yard, they already had my yard pass ready.

And during a recent design presentation at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings with Frank Del Rio, Robin Lindsay and others, I don’t know what came over me, but I jumped off my chair and started running laps around the boardroom table. To add further excitement, I barked as well. It was the liveliest meeting of the year, thanks to yours truly.

What projects are you currently casting your eye over?
I’ve come to learn non-disclosure agreements are actual documents that cannot be eaten. But let’s just say the team has been designing some pretty exciting projects (and more!). When they thought I was sleeping, I overheard them say you'll start seeing glimpses of these things quite soon… And then I truly did fall asleep, so that’s as much as I can share.

 

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Jon Ingleton
By Jon Ingleton
04 January 2021

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