Cruise & Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2023

148 ROUNDTABLE Designing high-quality interiors that empower cruise and ferry brands to deliver seamless and unforgettable experiences onboard their ships is a lengthy and challenging process, particularly because passenger expectations are continually evolving, and operators need to adapt quickly to remain competitive and relevant. However, as four designers share below, there are several factors that can ensure success: a detailed design brief, data analytics, and constant communication and collaboration between all stakeholders in the project. What surprises you the most when designing interiors for passenger ships? Kristoffer Jensen, OSK Design: Shipowners sometimes expect passengers to behave in certain ways and ask us to design solutions on that basis without conducting research to confirm it will work. For example, one customer introduced a click-and-collect option for hot beverages on a short ferry route because they’d seen it working well on land, but it wasn’t particularly well received by passengers because they preferred to sit in the café instead. This meant the client had wasted time, resources and space onboard the ship. Technology-driven innovations like this will certainly become a key part of the onboard experience in future, but it’s crucial that shipowners carry out customer research and consider the logistics before introducing them. Helena Sawelin, Tillberg Design of Sweden: In some instances, the shipowner does not communicate the design vision to the onboard operations team very well, so we go onboard the vessel and find that spaces have changed since we designed them. For example, the onboard team may move a side table from a bar into a restaurant and this looks odd because it doesn’t fit with overall design scheme or the layout. If we’d been able to speak directly with the operations team about their needs, we could easily have developed a design solution. Alan Stewart, SMC Design: Sometimes we ‘over design’, thinking that we need to create a complicated design concept to deliver more value for our clients. Yet they often just want something simple, and it takes a particular skill for designers to know when to hold back. We must take time to read and fully understand clients’ briefs to ensure we can design a solution that fits their expectations. Jason West, WDC Creative: It’s surprising how quickly customers’ needs and expectations change, and how difficult it can be for passenger ship owners to keep up. To remain competitive, they must carry out extensive research and gain insights into what their customers want, but also remember that these preferences will likely change quickly. The challenge for us is to be able to design spaces in such a way that will allow them to adapt their onboard offerings easily. How important is a detailed design brief and collaboration with clients to the success of a project? KJ: If I could send one message to shipowners it would be to develop a good brief to share with designers and architects before we start the project. In my experience, if clients don’t deliver a detailed brief and continually come up with new ideas that they want to incorporate into the design, it can lead to a lot of back and forth between the designer, architect, shipyard and others in the project. HS: Every project is different – some clients deliver very detailed briefs whereas others share a vague vision and ask us to advise or surprise them. It’s crucial for designers – and ideally the architects – to talk directly with the client to understand exactly what they’re looking for at the start of the project, then discuss ideas in detail. Most of the issues we face are caused by clients wanting to implement major changes or incorporate new ideas into the design late in the process, which hampers our productivity, is inefficient and costly for everyone. Taking a collaborative approach from the Simon Johnson asks four leading maritime interior designers about the importance of data, detailed design briefs and collaboration when it comes to creating sustainable onboard interiors that help passenger ship operators to deliver better guest experiences A first-class customer experience