The small design details that deliver a ‘wow’

Studio DADO’s Yohandel Ruiz, Jonathan Da Cruz and John Palacio explain to Rebecca Gibson why it is the little design details that captivate cruise guests and make onboard spaces memorable

The small design details that deliver a ‘wow’
Studio DADO designers John Palacio, Jonathan Da Cruz and founding partner Yohandel Ruiz focus on carefully crafting the small details that bring interior spaces such as Red Ginger

Miami-based firm Studio DADO is renowned for designing interiors that deliver a “wow” effect, but it is often the small details that resonate with guests and help them form an intimate relationship with the space. Hence, whether it is designing staterooms, suites or public spaces, the DADO team looks beyond the big idea and concentrates most of its creative effort on curating the little details that ensure comfort, luxury and ingenuity.  

“The guest experience is not only about how a space looks but also how people feel in the space – every minor detail from the type of music playing to the level of lighting plays an important role in telling the design story,” says Yohandel Ruiz, founding partner of DADO. “The designer must get into the minds of the guests to anticipate their needs and expectations for the space. At DADO, the team spends countless hours researching before the first lines are put down on paper or drawn on the computer screen. It is this dedication to the process that results in impeccably detailed spaces that transcend trends and cliches and instead establishes a design vocabulary that is rooted in authenticity and timelessness.” 

DADO, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2021, followed this approach when it was appointed as lead designer for Oceania Cruises’ new ship Vista. The studio was challenged with elevating the brand while keeping the essence of its signature award-winning culinary and cultural experiences. This represented an opportunity to design memorable spaces that exude timeless luxury and comfort. Each of the designs DADO crafted for the 10 dining venues onboard Vista showcases the team’s attention to detail and the small wows that will captivate guests when the ship is delivered in early 2023. 

When designing the new signature restaurant Ember, DADO took inspiration from the California Wine Country region to produce an interior that evokes the feel of a modern, yet cosy, West Coast eatery. Guests enter via a vestibule clad in soft white wood panelling and split-face stone walls and are greeted by a divider screen composed of restoration glass and a dark iron frame, which diffuses the light of the main dining area and provides a glimpse of what is to come. Two mid-century Danish-inspired lounge chairs create a residential feel, inviting guests to relax as they wait to be seated. Black-and-white photographs highlighting scenic California landscapes complete the narrative.   

Once inside the restaurant, guests will be surrounded by architectural details like custom-seeded glass and iron lighting, topstitched-leather woven panels, and a vaulted brick ceiling. Influenced by traditional American woodwork, Jonathan Da Cruz, who served as DADO’s lead designer on the project, custom designed the restaurant tabletops with butterfly joints. “It’s these little details that stay with you,” he says. “It’s these little surprises that, when noticed, bring a smile to the guest’s faces.” 

Another highly immersive restaurant is Red Ginger which was developed by DADO designer John Palacio. The space was inspired by the Indochine Style, which is known for fusing French romanticism and Asian artistry. Two distinct chairs reminiscent of bird cages flank a custom-designed wood chinoiserie curio cabinet lacquered in mandarin orange and adorned with antique vases at the restaurant’s entrance set the mood for an unforgettable dining experience. A collection of pagoda-style floor lamps adorns the way to the tables, basking the restaurant in warm light.  

Composed of two dining areas, the restaurant provides various ambiences that range from an intimate enclave surrounded by decorative screened walls to the high-ceilinged dining room that is anchored by three dramatic 10-foot-wide glass chandeliers. The team has also a custom wall art installation comprising glass and metal pieces inspired by the hanging lanterns of Hoi An in Vietnam.  

“We want guests to feel special, like they are dining in a truly luxurious environment where every surface has been touched by the hands of skilled artisans,” says Palacio. “It’s a space that establishes a language anchored in historic references that highlight the beauty of Asia. The abundance of details creates moments for discovery which will keep guests wanting to come back not only for the delectable culinary delights but also for the richness that is brought through the intriguing interiors of this memorable space.”  

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
10 May 2022

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