Adam Tihany conference session speaking
Adam D. Tihany

With just under half an hour to go before the first conference, attendees and exhibitors alike were already congregated at the entrance of the conference hall, excited to hear the first talk of the day. The air was a-buzz with conversation as people started filing in to take their seats for the first session  – Leader’s Debate – Pillars of Design.

Leader debate – Pillars of Design

Greg Walton (Studio DADO), Alison Clixby (Carnival UK), Fredrik Johansson (Tillberg Design) and Trevor Young (MSC Cruises) took to the stage for the first talk. Speaking to a full room, a captivating session explored a number of the major topics to be discussed over the two days – with moderator Greg Walton joking that he was trying to cover everything in one session!

To begin with, the panel discussed how they use elements of design to differentiate their brand from others. Trevor Young pointed out that MSC is a family company, and for MSC their brand is about Mediterranean values – and that they spend a huge amount of time ensuring that whatever has been designed works from an operational point of view. Alison Clixby made the point that P&O focus on the question of British design – pondering how design is used to make areas warm, homely and familiar – and compared this Cunard ships, which focus on attention to detail.

Following this, Greg posited the idea of changing design based on demographic – and asked how this works in reality. The panel discussed the differences between Western and Eastern markets, noting that demographics can be so different in two close places. Using the example of designing for the Chinese market, Trevor Young discussed the differences in the use of outdoor spaces for the North and South Chinese markets.

The discussion then got on to recent technological advancements by way of improvements in LED lighting technology – with the panel discussing the balance needed when installing tech in cabins: does the cruiser really want an overload of tech? The resounding answer was no, but the panel observed that there was a definite need to stay ahead of, or at least with, the technological tide.

With a half hour break until the second talk, attendees re-entered the exhibition space to grab coffees and ponder the captivating discussion had by the industry leaders.

Defining the narrative – cruising in the age of design

Next up on the stage was the keynote speaker – Adam D. Tihany. Introduced by Alison Clixby, Adam deliberated on cruising in the age of design – which for him started on June 29th 2008 – the day Steve Jobs first presented the iPhone. This ushered in an age of design where every consumer feels they deserve well-designed products and services – for better or for worse.

One month later, the Celebrity Solstice first set sail – the first collaboration between Celebrity and Adam D. Tihany, with three restaurants conceived for the project. One of these was the Grand Epernay. As a restaurant with architectural aspirations, it pushed dining rooms from ‘decorated’ to ‘designed’ – and quickly became a symbol of what can be done with dining rooms on cruise ships.

Tihany then moved on to talk about the Pinnacle class of Holland America ships – a project he undertook keeping the architecture of music in mind – what would this look like, and how would it feel? Tihany designed the atrium, dining room, bars and theatre with this in mind – resulting in impressive, audio-inspired structures.

After a passionate verbal love letter to Italy’s design heritage, Adam took questions, mostly focused on the value of art in design. His ethos, one that will resonate with most designers, is that the responsibility of the designer is to “deliver a product that is function, durable, maintainable and beautiful – in that order”.

Sustainable cruise interiors

After a quick lunch, four new speakers returned to the stage to present the third session of the day – ‘Sustainable Cruise Interiors’. My Nguyen (Holland America), Darren Smith (MJM Marine), Jeremie Chauvet (Schmitz Textiles) and Per Eriksson (TDoS) delved into sustainability in the world of cruise interiors. My drove the questioning, asking whether brands were pushing and driving change in the industry. The response to this was largely no – with Per noting that when it comes to materials, the designers push the brands – and observed that this may be because of the age demographic of most of the designers he works with being younger and ecologically more conscious. The panel agreed that ‘Sustainability’ as a whole needed an industry-wide, international ruling similar to IMO, before moving on to discuss waste in drydocks. Darren from MJM noted that waste is a huge factor in drydocks – with most drydocks being very quick affairs, waste management is not considered at the level it should be beforehand. My responded to this by saying “there is a lot of material that is very useable from drydocks that goes into landfill – I wish there was a company out there that could figure out a solution to recycle products in the time they are in drydock”.

My Nguyen conference session
My Nguyen

Innovative materials

Next up was a session on ‘Innovative Materials’ led by Trevor Young (MSC). The discussion started with an overview from Paul Nichols (Lloyd’s Register) on the rules and regulations set out by SOLAS to ensure safety at sea, and how these related to cruise interiors. This was followed by an interesting Q&A session, in which Jacco van Overbeek posited that the future of cruise interiors is in gathering data. Whether it’s knowing where people are on board in an emergency to guide them to emergency exits, tracking footfall in shops and entertainment areas on board to figure out the most lucrative parts of the ship, the Bolidt Director made a convincing argument that data was the way forward. He also mentioned that Bolidt were working on flooring that could sense where people are and indicate which direction people need to go in an emergency situation.

Design forecasting

To finish off the great day of talks, Tal Danai took to the stage to present ‘Design Forecasting’ with Luke Pearson (PearsonLloyd Design), Marloes Boele (MDesigns), and Peter Joehnk (JOI Design). Future-gazer Marloes started with the point that target market for river cruising is changing, meaning different needs have to be met – including the deck plans and layouts of the ships. Luke Pearson of PearsonLloyd discussed their recent project on the new Virgin Voyages ship – and explained how they made a flexible stateroom representative of the brand. To do so, their brief started with the intention of making the cabin a place a cruiser could comfortably be for 24 hours without going into the ship itself – which is how the flexible living space was born. Peter Joehnk of JOI Design discussed making hotels homely, and how you could bring this to the sea on board cruise ships – saying “the best hotel design is when it doesn’t look like a hotel – it should feel like coming home”.

With that we wrapped up the first day of conference sessions! It was an incredibly informative day, sparking conversation between visitors and exhibitors alike.