Boasting two days of groundbreaking product innovations, energy-filled networking events, inspiring content sessions, and a glittering awards ceremony, Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Europe (CSIE) 2023 was a must-attend event for anybody in the cruise interiors sector! Want a refresher? Read on for a recap or to see what you missed at CSI Design Expo Europe 2023.

Music, mingling and mixers

The celebrations began before show doors even opened at the CSIE Opening Party, sponsored by Naval Interior. And where else would a trip to London start than with a visit to a traditional British pub? Attendees celebrated their first night in London in style, uniting for an evening of British pints, mixed beats and mingling at The Fox.

The next morning, delegates arrived bright and early at ExCeL London for the first CSIE Speed Networking session of 2023. Buyers and suppliers from across the supply chain connected across eight meetings in search of new interior design focused partnerships. Project requirements, pitches and contact information were exchanged over cups of coffee and delicious pastries.

Industry buyers connected with suppliers catering to their project requirements at Speed Networking

Demonstrations, workshops, and beautiful designs

When doors opened at 10am, visitors took to the hall for an action-packed day of networking, product sourcing, and knowledge gathering. As Europe’s only exhibition dedicated to the interior design of cruise ships, exhibitors wowed with eye-catching stand designs. Among these were Akula Living, CITA Design, and Best Stand Design award winner, JSC Mamo Arc. Their innovative design combined furniture and stone, showing the synergy between the two in a variety of elements and cruise interior spaces. These included a cruise cabin, a bar, and a reception desk. The stand design featured stone shaped into a variety of interactive forms and elements by stonemasons using CNC Machines.

JSC Mamo Arc won Best Stand Design for its design that blended furniture with stone

Across the hall, Fiber ProTector were demonstrating the effectiveness of their protective spray which, once applied, safeguards soft surfaces from drink spills, UV rays and bacteria. Soy sauce and wine were spilled on carpet samples, both with and without the spray. On the samples with Fiber ProTector applied, the spills could be wiped straight off.

Visitors could create bear pour art at Bolidt’s stand using their liquid decking

Sustainable stands

Sustainability is becoming a more crucial element of cruise interior design. While there were many imaginative and sustainable stand designs at CSIE 2023, only one exhibitor could take home the Most Sustainable Stand Design award. This was awarded to SD Marine Services, whose unique design featured a fully cardboard stand shaped like a cruise ship, complete with portholes, a funnel, and even a floor! No glue or adhesives were used during assembly, with pieces instead slotting into one another. The stand’s sustainable design is furthered by its reusability for future exhibitions.

Between visiting stands and making new connections, delegates also had the opportunity to pose their questions to industry leaders MSC Cruises & De Wave Group in two dedicated meet the brand sessions.

Pitches and pints at the CSIE pub

Over at the CSIE pub exhibitors were competing in the second Pitch & Pint competition. Here, each contender had just two minutes to pitch their most groundbreaking products to the CSI Advisory Board. Sunbury Design emerged as this year’s winner.

Fast-paced pitches and delicious beverages were enjoyed at the second Pitch & Pint competition

Artful designs and inspiring discussions

At 10:15am, delegates took to Robos Contract Furniture’s stand for a morning of inspiration and knowledge gathering at the first CPD-certified content session, Inspiration for beautiful design: Case studies in materials & spaces. Led by Erik Øren, CEO – ICArt, three designers representing Royal Caribbean Group, Sybille de Margerie Interiors, and Ambassador Cruise Line weighed in on the various elements of creating cruise design concepts and sharing an inspiring showcase of recent projects across newbuild and refurbishment portfolios. Together, they untapped the power of good storytelling in design, explored how to develop authentic spaces that weave in brand DNA, and shared the role of art in evoking emotions and curating outstanding guest experiences. Attendees left armed with bountiful inspiration for future projects and the knowledge to take their design concepts to the next level.

Panel shared their top tips for creating compelling stories and authentic spaces through design

Networking, celebrations and more!

The second speed networking session commenced after an invigorating Project Management Lunch at the Cruise & Ferry Interiors VIP Lounge. With outfitting projects at the heart of each meeting, key decision makers within the community met with suppliers in a series of introductions, forming new connections and discussing how they could work together.

Later in the day, CSI+ members enjoyed a quintessential British Afternoon Tea, hosted at the CSI+ Lounge. Scones and British tea were savoured whilst making new connections and mingling with peers. A collaboration between CSI+ members, the CSI+ Lounge, designed by YSA Design, was inspired by a whimsically wonderful afternoon tea. Its design featured carpets from AxPro Concept, furniture by ROBOS, fabrics provided by Kvadrat, lamps provided by Humble Lights, and lighting from Chelsom.

The day’s networking and sourcing was topped off with the Happy Hour drinks, hosted by Molto Music Group. The event was bursting at the seams with buyers, cruise lines, designers, outfitters, and suppliers raising a glass to the day’s activities whilst enjoying a live music performance.

The fun continues

CSIE may have closed its doors at the end of day one, but the fun didn’t stop there. The CSI After Hours party, sponsored by Bromic Heating and Harmony Marine Solutions, kept the celebrations and conversations flowing late into the night. Major industry players, including cruise lines, suppliers, outfitters, shipyards, and design studios took to the Novotel for an evening of networking and celebrating.

The fun continued late into the night at the CSIE After Hours party

Day Two commences

Following an exhilarating evening of networking and partying at the CSI After Hours, visitors returned to the ExCeL London for another day of catching leading design insights, product sourcing, networking, and celebrations at the CSI Awards. For attendees who had taken part in the night’s festivities, CSIE came to the rescue with tasty hangover cures! Small but mighty, these shots that pack a punch come in two delicious flavours: turmeric and ginger.

Sustainability takes centre stage

As sustainability dominates cruise interior design conversations, there were many environmentally conscious stands on display at CSIE 2023. Among these were nevi, whose Titanic inspired stand design displayed their natural birch bark materials. These can be used for a variety of onboard spaces including decking in wet zones due to their antibacterial, slip and water-resistant properties. Marine outfitter Shield Services Group boasted a fully recycled stand featuring reupholstered pre-loved chairs, a carpet made using 80% recycled water bottles, and a desk made of recycled oak.

Biophilic design has become a big interiors trend, both onshore and offshore. Twilight Trees brought the outside into the hall with their living wall stand design. This displayed the artificial trees and biophilic installations that provide passengers with a connection to nature while at sea, curating a calm environment.

Twilight Trees brought the outside in with their stand’s living wall

Among the many creative stands on display was Gyotaku by Lisa Lee, who displayed their fish print patterns. These are created in a sustainable process using fresh fish caught by the team, which are eaten after printing. The designs, which feature octopuses, tropical fish, shells, and even plants, can be printed onto fabrics, furnishings, and plates.

Gyotaku by Lisa Lee displayed nautical themed patterns with their fish prints

Making connections

Throughout the second day of CSIE, the Speed Networking Zone was buzzing with two dynamic rounds of Speed Networking spread across the day. Kicking things off, the morning session saw introductions made between buyers and suppliers involved in hotel, cabin amenities and cruise interiors. This continued with an afternoon session dedicated to shipbuilding.

Delivering insights and inspiration

Knowledge sharing flowed throughout day two with three more CPD-certified panel talks. Starting these was Is project management a dark art? Working with outfitters, yards and contractors. Here, the role of a project manager was explored through the eyes of a Project Manager, Owner, Shipyard and Outfitter.

“Project management is not just a science which can be studied. Project management is an art; this skill cannot be learned.”

Adrienne Chin, Director, Newbuild & Hotel Refit Planning & Programmes – Carnival UK (P&O Cruises & Cunard)

Delegates came away with a deeper understanding of the role of a project manager, not only in ensuring the success of a project but also in leading and empowering teams, promoting collaboration and creating a streamlined process.

The panel delved into the role of a project manager

Exploring expedition

As the expedition market has grown exponentially, with four new ships launching in 2023 alone, visitors swarmed to Coco Wolf’s stand to catch Designing for adventure: Spotlight on expedition cruise interiors. Kristoffer Jensen (OSK Design), Sandra Correia da Silva (Mystic Cruises), Carlos Reyes (Tomas Tillberg Design International) and Akvile Marozaite (Expedition Cruise Network) explored what goes into designing interiors for these unique vessels, and the transformation they have undergone to appeal to the changing market and passenger base, exuding luxury and comfort whilst maintaining their scientific roots. Sustainability was also a major talking point. The designers noted its importance, especially considering the remote regions these vessels venture to, and called for legislation within the industry.

The lucrative market of expedition cruising and its interior design was explored in Designing for adventure

Closing the accredited conference programme, the final session of CSIE 2023 saw leading designers from Northern Lights, Spark Co-operative, YSA Design, and Richmond International weighing in on The role of tomorrow’s marine designer, offering their advice to designers wanting to enter this niche sector. Attendees came away armed with an understanding of the influences, opportunities and threats facing emerging designers, from the use of AI to changing passenger expectations and the differences between land-based and cruise design.

The 2023 Conference and Workshop programme closed with a session offering advice to future marine interior designers

“The norms have been the same in the cruise industry for a long time, and I think with the new generations coming in, that’s going to be blown out of the water to a great degree.”

Fiona Thompson, Principal – Richmond International

Raising a glass at the CSI Awards

Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Europe 2023 closed the day’s stimulating networking, product sourcing and insightful content sessions with the fourth annual Cruise Ship Interiors Awards. There were nine awards up for grabs, with 13 winners crowned among accomplished design studios, cruise lines and suppliers in attendance.

Spared by Volume Creative provided the 2023 CSI Award trophies, made with recycled materials

The CSI Awards began with a drinks reception hosted by Trimline. Attendees raising a glass to celebrate both a successful show and a monumental year for the cruise interiors industry. As the champagne and excitement flowed, Toby Walters, CEO of the CSI Awards and CSI Design Expo Europe bestowed awards across two categories – Spaces and Products. This year’s accolades included a new award, Best Stateroom (small ship), sponsored by Panaz. This was awarded to the Horizon Deluxe Stateroom on board World Traveller, Mystic Cruises, designed by Oitoemponto.

The ceremony closed with a special announcement that after four years as chair of the CSI Advisory Board, George Scammell, ASID, IIDA, Director Interior Asset Management at Princess Cruises was handing his title to My Nguyen, Director of Interior Design at Holland America Group. This was commemorated with the presentation of the CSI Advisory Board gavel.

My Nguyen (Holland America Group) was passed the gavel as she became the new Chair of the CSI Advisory Board

And that’s a wrap! Thank you to all who attended Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Europe 2023 and made it a great success! We look forward to seeing you again next year. Find out more about CSI Design Expo Europe 2024.