Why bolder is better in cruise ship interiors

Alan McVitty from M Studio tells Lindsay James about the top trends he’s observing in cruise ship interior design

Why bolder is better in cruise ship interiors
Fresh schemes using lighting and textures give a simple elegant feel

This article was first published in the 2018 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

According to Alan McVitty, a director at London’s M Studio, colour is coming back in fashion – and in a big way. “The age of beige and grey is over,” he says. “We’re seeing a new demand for big, bold patterns to match the increasingly bolder interior cruise ship designs that are making a mark across the industry.”   

This type of look needs the right kind of finishes to work – and this takes a careful eye. “The choice of contrasting materials is key,” McVitty says. “It’s about creating interest through darker joinery, more interesting veneers and metal finishes.”

Lighting is also crucial. “Lighting has always been a major element of effective interior design, but now it’s more about creating the right ambiance,” McVitty notes. “As well as more thought being put into public areas, we’re also seeing a focus on cabin spaces and suites. There’s also a move toward the ability to change lighting patterns depending on the time of the day.” 

All of these are elements that M Studio excels in – and McVitty believes this is thanks to the company’s experience across sectors. “We have a great deal of understanding about high end commercial and residential projects, and this knowledge really is priceless when it comes to our work in the cruise industry,” he says. “That’s because we recognise that, just because something looks good, it’s not necessarily practical. You’d be surprised at how often a design is implemented without thinking about whether it will withstand the rigors of operation. Pale colours with no textures or designs, for example, will be a nightmare for housekeepers because they show up every mark.” 

McVitty says this level of understanding makes M Studio unique in the industry. “We create designs that last,” he explains. “You only have to look at the work we did for Windstar over 8 years ago. Those designs are still going strong. The power of that cannot be underestimated.” 

The approach is clearly paying off – M Studio was asked to work on Cunard’s Queen Victoria partial refit at the Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo, Sicily early last year. This included an upgraded and increased choice of staterooms, new aft suites, new Britannia Club dining, a broader and more distinct bar offering and a transformed sun deck. The company is now poised to begin work on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth refit. 

“It’s a project I’m really excited about,” McVitty says. “I worked on the first QE2 refit in 1999 and was also a lead designer on the Queen Mary, so it’s fantastic to be back working on such an iconic brand of ships,” he says. “In fact, it’s a real privilege.”

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Lindsay James
By Lindsay James
Thursday, February 21, 2019