What leads to interior designers creating a masterpiece on a ship?

Marco de Jorio, co-founder of De Jorio Design International, tells Lindsay James why trust and mutual respect are key to achieving creative freedom

What leads to interior designers creating a masterpiece on a ship?
The My Choise restaurant onboard MSC Cruises' MSC Meraviglia

This article was first published in the 2019 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

According to Marco de Jorio, interior design is comparable to art. “The goal of any artist or painter is to create emotion in their work,” he says. “Adding a personal touch is crucial to creating this emotion. As interior designers, we want to create our own masterpieces. The best designs come when we truly believe in our work – when we are given the freedom to express our own personality, sensitivities and culture. This translates into breathtaking designs that will engage the passenger.”

Experience and technical ability are also crucial to creating interior designs that work. “Much like we’ve seen with architecture from the Renaissance, a good use of space can create interiors that seemingly transcend reality,” de Jorio says. “The design itself – and the use of iconic elements, along with appropriate use of colours, textures and lighting – then adds to the drama.”

Incredibly passionate about his work, de Jorio stresses that those designs created purely to meet commercial requirements are easy to spot. “Artistic freedom makes an incredible difference,” he said. “A good designer will know how to play on his own sensitivities to engage with the space and therefore with the passenger.”

But being given this creative freedom isn’t par for the course. “Total creative freedom is a rare thing,” de Jorio said. “But, by taking the time to really get to know shipowners and their teams, we can establish the trust necessary to really make our mark on a design.” This trust comes from mutual respect, de Jorio said. “We respect the owners’ needs and wants, and in turn they respect our vision.”

Mutual respect is something that de Jorio has undoubtedly achieved with Gianluigi and Rafaela Aponte – the owners of MSC Cruises. “We have been working with MSC Cruises for almost 20 years. We’ve got a good rapport, and we’ve evolved with the company on a number of levels,” de Jorio said. “From our initial designs, through to our most recent work on MSC Bellissima – where we designed all cabins, suites, apartments and most of the public spaces – we’ve had the creative license to deliver what we feel is right – a recognisable, elegant Italian design that we’re incredibly proud of.”

It’s not all easy, de Jorio admits. Sometimes he has to work harder to achieve his vision. “For example, if an owner stipulates that we need to include a Tex-Mex restaurant, it has to be recognised as such, while still fitting in with the overall design of the ship. It’s a careful balancing act. We need to make sure our designs have a degree of flexibility,” he said. “In these situations, we need to make sure we thoroughly understand the owner’s expectations. It’s then up to us to offer a new translation that works for everyone.”

It’s the bigger, more impactful areas where de Jorio believes his creative freedom can run wild. “We can have more control of areas like the main lobby, arcades and lounge areas,” he said. “These areas have the potential to create a big emotional response and impart a positive mood in the passenger – not just on the first day of their travels, but throughout their stay onboard. Creating a masterpiece isn’t just about the initial ‘wow’ factor, it’s about the details that the customer engages with day after day.

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Lindsay James
By Lindsay James
19 July 2019

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