Studio DADO: The masters of innovation

Javier Calle and Scheherazade Licul tell Rebecca Gibson how Studio DADO creates exciting venues

Studio DADO: The masters of innovation
Studio DADO used various materials to replicate a rustic Texan barbecue joint in Norwegian Cruise Line’s Q restaurants

By Rebecca Gibson |

Designing innovative spaces onboard cruise ships is challenging.

“Our clients want us to push the boundaries of design and architecture, but everything we create must comply with a myriad of strict health, safety, fire and other regulations to ensure the safety of guests and crew,” says Javier Calle, founding partner of Miami-based design company Studio DADO. “Any materials we use must pass stringent tests, be lightweight and capable of withstanding movement and vibrations of the ship.”

One of the biggest challenges, says Calle, is finding non-combustible materials to meet the fire safety requirements set out in the International Maritime Organization’s Safety of Life at Sea convention. “We’ve had to become very adept at finding non-combustible substitutes for every type of material that can safely be used on cruise ships,” he says. “We’ve become masters of innovation.”

Studio DADO’s mastery of materials is showcased in the Q restaurants onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Encore.

“Norwegian wanted to create an authentic Texas barbecue restaurant that looked as though it had aged naturally over time,” says Scheherazade Licul, designer at Studio DADO. “Typically, these restaurants are decorated with lots of wood, but this posed a problem due to fire safety requirements.

To safely evoke the appearance of a rustic barbecue joint, Studio DADO chose five different wood-effect laminates and installed them in a mismatched pattern throughout Q. “We also covered some of the bulkheads with plastic laminate cut into planks to replicate barn siding,” says Licul. “We completed the space with some incredible porcelain floor tiles that look and feel like weathered barn siding, as well as sections of thin-set brick veneer that resemble real old bricks. The result is a perfectly imperfect dining venue that will instantly transport Norwegian’s guests to Texas.”

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