Alpha Design Projects (Alpha) has come a long way since 1991. Owners, designers, project managers and general all-rounders Olga Kraaijeveld, managing director, and Nana du Fijn, vice managing director, began their professional lives in the onshore business and worked on the company’s first river ship in 2005. Since then, a combination of refits and newbuildings totalling about 50 have received the Alpha touch and account for up to 80% of the business, with retail and offices making up the balance.
In April 2014, Kraaijeveld and Du Fijn were hard at work on the 186-passenger river ship Excellence Princess at Teamco Shipyard in Heusden. They worked closely together with Liane van Leeuwen of Studio-L, the original architect on the project, and the owner, Twerenbold Reisen AG Basel. Having been drafted in on the latter stages of the refit of Excellence Coral in Tangermunde two years ago, Alpha was then contracted to make alterations on Excellence Queen this year.
With delivery scheduled for April 30, the pair had just three and a half weeks to work with the yard and subcontractors to complete the interior furnishings on Excellence Princess, rather than the usual two to three months, according to Kraaijeveld. She comments: “We know the subcontractors very well. They laugh about the stress.”
Teamco, where the ship was built, gets her vote. “It is quite a young company but they are very enthusiastic and are people we like to work with.” They first worked together on Serenade II in 2007. After the original builder went broke, Teamco bought everything and hired staff to continue the project, which also had to be completed in three and a half weeks.
The key to Alpha’s success may lie in the fact that, as Kraaijeveld admits, she “likes challenges”. However, she notes: “People know that when they hire us everything will be ready.”
The duo’s work pattern varies, with projects undertaken sometimes with the architect, sometimes in a team and sometimes directly with the owner. With AMA Waterways, for example, “we just do it ourselves with Mrs Marian Kamphuisen.” Part of the design is done by the pair but she adds: “We sometimes ask manufacturers to deliver a design that has been requested.”
Looking ahead, Kraaijeveld believes that river ships will be more luxurious. “It is a trend already. There is quite a huge difference between ships from 2005-2006 and the ships we deliver now. For example, a lot of river vessels have flat-screen Apple TVs in all the cabins. The owners are spending more money.”
Since 2007 the company has grown by at least 100%. It has “five serious competitors” within Germany and Holland but has just taken on an extra woman as the growth continues. “We want to stay a woman’s company,” comments Kraaijeveld. “It is a man’s world but we want to be the women in a man’s world. We like it.”
Recent projects include Avalon Poetry II, Avalon Impression and Avalon Illumination, built in Den Breejen Shipyard in Hardinxveld-Giessendam, and AmaSonata and AmaReina, built in Vahali Shipyard, Gendt. Next up are AmaVista and Avalon Tapestry. While ocean ships are not in the company’s sights, Kraaijeveld and Du Fijn would “love to go into yachting” and at the end of this year they are putting a foot in the water, having been contracted to do the crew area on a seagoing sailing vessel.
This article appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2014 edition of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. To read other articles, you can subscribe to the magazine in printed or digital formats.
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