Thank you so much for speaking with us today. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and Mdesigns?

Mdesigns is studio for trend forecasting and interior design in the hospitality and cruise ship industry. We make trend forecasts to be used as inspiration for our own interior designs as well as for others. They are based on societal and industrial research and adapted to the client. Our trend forecasts include inspiration for style, shape, material and pattern for the cruise ship industry. 

However, our core business is the interior design for river and expedition cruise ships, whether it is a refit or a newbuild.  Currently we are working on 9 ships, from a small refit to a full refurbishment and 2 newbuild projects. It is something I would have never expected when I started Mdesigns over 12 years ago.

Before that I was employed as a technical designer and project manager for interiors. But my heart lies within design, so when I established my company, I first went to the academy to develop myself further and get my master’s in interior design. Now I realize that the combination of technical knowledge, project management and creative design in one person, is rare, but comes in handy. 

What inspired you to create Mdesigns?

I was always kind of a rebel when it comes to doing the expected daily tasks. I have never been an obedient follower, but when I believe in something, I put my heart and soul in it. So Mdesigns didn’t start with exciting, huge plans or a clear path, but simply following my heart.

After working for various employers, I felt I needed to move on. I’ve had some interviews for positions that I strived after. They told me an architect title was required, but my work was too good to work as an architect assistant. They were afraid I would outrun the architect. Their advice: You should start your own business. And for once I listened!

In only 5 years Mdesigns have worked on over 20 newbuild and refit projects. Can you tell us about a project that was particularly exciting, interesting or challenging?

Of course I remember my first cruise ship. The Theodor Körner, one of the oldies sailing on the Danube, build in 1964, completely renovated with an Art Deco look. It was huge renovation with many challenges, technical and budget wise.

And one of the latest ships is the nickoSPIRIT. Usually an interior designer is involved when the deck plan is all set and done, but this time the naval architect and I worked together very close to make sure the exterior and interior were completely connected in usage and style. We determined the layout, the basic materials and together with the client we created a completely new kind of river cruise ship. We strived to implement features that meet today’s individual comfort and luxury. River cruising 2.0.

The interior that has an industrial style with black steel and natural colour palettes. A much more bright and transparent design. It is also fully based on the trend forecasts that we put together for the cruise industry.

Trend forecasting is the magic that everyone hopes to bottle! Can you tell us about your approach to translating future societal trends into design?

Basically, trend forecasting is an analysis of human behaviour in certain situations from the past. That is why we are researching various developments in society, such as economics, technology and politics to determine the target groups needs. For example, how did we react to the economic crisis back in the thirties? In those circumstances we are looking for need for safety and certainty. Colour palettes become less bold, materials and become more basic or traditional, shapes more simple. You can call it a basic comfort that can be used for a few years.

We again have that need for basic comfort, but for whole different reason. The internet was introduced to the public halfway the nineties. What started as an informative, communication channel is now completely merged into our daily lives. The impact can be compared to the invention of the light bulb. Within two decades the internet has become a common need in the current society. The line between work and leisure has become very thin. Although we enjoy the comfort that it creates, we are switched ‘ON’ all day because of it. It’s not surprise that we seek for calmness, both internal and external. So it’s important to create environments that are balanced and provide this feeling.

On that note, you’ll be speaking at the conference session Design Forecasting. Without giving too much away, could you give us an insight into what you’ll be discussing.

Together with two other great experts in the field we will give an insight in the challenges for a design and what to take into account. But also, the trends in society which impact interior design. The most important general influences at the moment are the awareness of the environmental changes, the digital fusion and the individual revitalization. Each of these are of technical and aesthetical impact with new possibilities and challenges. For example, sustainability has become a lifestyle in the current society. Sustainable materials on board have become a common thing, but how to create a sustainable experience? Or all the digital features that we have, knowing that artificial intelligence is just around the corner. How far does this adventure go?

And finally what are you most looking forward to about Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Europe?

I am hoping to meet people that I can inspire but inspire me as well. To share my vision and love for this profession and industry. And to learn from others and get to know people to develop new ideas and new projects with.

See Marloes Boele and others predict the future of cruise at the conference session, Design Forecasting. Register for free to see our complete conference schedule, plus walk the floor of Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Europe, 4-5 December.