Passengers want to escape the stress and uncertainty of our new reality, says Fabiana Dornelas
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a sharp upturn in requests for antimicrobial surfaces that had previously only been seen in healthcare. Fabrics and finishes on which the virus can only survive for a limited time, such as copper, are also growing in popularity, while designers have been reducing the number of flat surfaces that allow germs to accumulate and spread unhindered.
Yet the heightened focus on hygiene is not the only change brought about by the Covid-19 outbreak. Consumers may experience more anxiety when they travel and are consequently would crave soft, soothing colours that instil a sense of reassurance and comfort, as well as earthy tones that evoke nature.
Passengers returning to cruise ships want to escape the stress and uncertainty of our new reality, but they also want to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of city living and get closer to nature. It is our responsibility as architects and designers to create spaces that promote internal peace and help guests to rediscover the joy of travel.
In doing so, designers are also having to accommodate growing demand for sustainable hospitality, a phenomenon which means the notion of ‘luxury’ in cruise ship interior design is also evolving. Responsibly sourced reusable materials are in higher demand than ever, with two examples being flax fibre and Solidwool.
Flax is a biodegradable product that can be grown in cold climates or off-season, decreasing the need for crop rotation and minimising land use, which in turn significantly reduces deforestation. Its fibres are used to create textiles and furniture with a warm, rustic appeal.
Solidwool, meanwhile, is a composite material made from sheep wool leftovers that is compacted, shaped and bound with a bio-resin layer to seal the fibres. Like flax fibre, it can be used to make furniture with a relatively small carbon footprint and minimalistic look.
Our understanding of luxury now goes beyond quality and aesthetics; increasingly, designers and consumers alike assess materials based on their environmental impact at the production, application and distribution stages.
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