Only impossible tasks are successful

Jacques-yves cousteau

Hospitality changed in the face of COVID-19. Cruise Ship Interiors sought to predict some of that change with their ‘Design a Face Mask’ challenge. Open to any and all, from cruise design experts to new-to-cruise, the competition was a welcome opportunity for people to be creative.

Our winning team created a beautiful product concept designed to serve the needs of the ship’s crew. We took a deep dive with them to learn more about their inspiration, their development process and how they created their fantastic face mask design.

Meet the team

The creative partnership between Angelica and Lena formed a long time ago in Moscow, Russia, at the start of their careers. Angelica ended up in USA, working for a Cruise industry as Architect-Designer and, later, as Refurbishment/ Construction Project Manager. Meanwhile Lena’s career took her from stylist and illustrator to creative director in marketing.

They reunited during the global lockdown. By combining both of their competencies and experiences they were able to find a solution to such this challenge.

The mask function

We all know that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. And cruise lines’ crew members are the ones who deliver the first hospitality impression to their guests.

For this reason a smiling person in hospitality industry is very important, especially on a cruise. Being on a cruise ship people expect to find a HAPPY place, where everyone is on vacation, gathered together for a joined adventure and making memories of a lifetime.

Angelica and Lena identified a potential issue with crew wearing plain face masks. Crew member faces are covered and nobody can see their facial expressions, or their friendly smiles.

They decided that their design should address this problem head on. By incorporating a solution into the design, it should also help to create happier, more relaxed atmosphere on board.

So, the #HAPPYMASK was born! And, what spells “HAPPY” better than a smile? Let’s put the smiles right back on our faces!

The design cornerstones

Having decided on the demographic and the special feature of the design, the team set about nailing the must-have features.

The first priority was, of course, safety. The mask had to comply with CDC guidelines and protect the wearer from spreading the virus. It also had to be easily cleanable for hygiene reasons.

The second priority was comfort – the mask had to be breathable, adjustable to varies sizes, made of a light-weight fabric; to feel almost as a second skin. On top of this it must be manageable and removable, in ship areas where social distancing is possible. Crew would be using their masks daily, for hours at a time, so the design had to be intuitive

The third priority was to make it fun! The face mask had to help, not hinder, the vacation-happy environment on board.

And the last, but not least, was cost-efficiency. The mask had to be easy to produce and replaced in case of damages.

The design inspiration

One of the biggest challenges for hospitality companies has been to incorporate necessary safety measures such as social distancing or mask wearing in a way that aligns with the pleasurable atmosphere sought after by customers.

Knowing this, Angelica and Lena asked themselves – was there a case where masks complemented the atmosphere of the holiday? And, immediate answer which came to mind was a success story of the Venetian Carnival, known for many centuries for its elaborate masks.

Venetian masks are not only aesthetically pleasing but also a symbol of popular event. They enhance self-confidence and people are excited and happy to wear them. The team thought there must be a way to create something similar on board of a cruise ship.

The twist was that, unlike the Venetian mask, which usually hides the identity, Angelica and Lena’s design would reveal the identity in its own way. The masks would be printed with a stylization of the wearer’s photo portrait.

 How will the image on the mask be created?

There many existing applications that can transform photo images into heightened cartoon style. This meant it would be easy for cruise lines to apply the style without the need for extensive app development.

 In addition to the cartoon styling, a beard or a moustache can be added, some facial features can be adjusted or corrected, various textile designs can be used – the opportunities are endless!

This concept can be also valid for after pandemic times, whenever one wishes to created themed environment for itineraries, events, charters, etc.

After seeing #HAPPYMASKs on the Crew, some cruise guests might also wish to get one of those for themselves. This creates a revenue opportunity for a Cruise Line.