fredrik johansson black and white headshot

Fredrik Johansson will be speaking in the session ‘100 Ways to Blow the Budget (And Some Simple Alternatives)’ at Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Europe’s conference, Cruise Conversations Live. As a long-time Partner & Executive Director at Tillberg Design of Sweden, he has 27 years of experience in designing stunning interiors which achieve the vision of some of the world’s most prominent cruise lines. Ahead of his session, we caught up with Fredrik to learn more about creating sustainable designs, the current state of the cruise interiors industry, designing the world’s first residential yacht liner, and his upcoming session at Cruise Conversations Live.

Thanks for speaking with the Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Europe team (CSIE) today! Tell us about your current role and what it entails on a day-to-day basis?

I’m a Partner & Executive Director at Tillberg Design of Sweden, and I’ve been in the company for 27 years now. In my role, day to day I’m often speaking with clients, as part of my job is to build and maintain relationships with them. This involves getting to know their brand’s needs and ambitions to ensure that I can set up projects in the right direction. Then, as part owner of the company, I am also a board member, working out the bigger picture for the company by setting its goals and direction. So, I do a bit of everything, from hands on creative projects to some more business-oriented tasks. It’s a very multi-faceted job!

What inspired you to venture into the marine industry?

When I joined back in 1994, I didn’t like the industry at all. The cruise interiors were some of the worst I had seen, so I thought I’d only give it a year or two. But it turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought, as a lot of interesting projects popped up! Together with a few colleagues, we set out with the goal to upgrade, or update the mindset regarding the interiors of the industry. And then, we got the opportunity to take over the company 17 years ago. People sometimes ask: how can you stay in one job for 27 years? Well, there’s never a dull moment; two days are not the same, and you learn something new every day.

Can you tell us about any key opportunities or challenges faced by the cruise interiors industry at present?

The whole industry has been on a bit of a hold. Most of our ongoing projects have carried on without any big cancellations or delays, but these projects have slowly phased out now. There’s been a lot of hesitation from the big players to build something new or pick up big projects.

On the other hand, we have seen a lot of new players taking the opportunity to enter the market. Suddenly, prices are lower and there are more building slots available in shipyards. Also, there’s some great talent available resulting from people leaving their jobs in cruise lines. So, we have seen a lot of entrepreneurial activity in the shape of new start-ups and new ownerships. As a result, we have a lot of small, exciting, and exclusive ships in development right now.

Tell us about a recent project that was particularly challenging, interesting, or unique in some way.

We recently worked on Somnio, the world’s first residential yacht liner.This project has been incredibly exciting, and has kept us on our creative toes! We are coordinating architects for the master planning of the ship’s design in collaboration with Winch Design, a very respected yacht design company.It is a very exciting and fruitful collaboration of two design companies coming from slightly different perspectives.

Somnio will be the biggest yacht out there at 220 metres long. It has 39 luxury apartments, costing over $1 million each, and these are on sale by invitation or referral only. The apartments are large – even the smallest suite on board Somnio will be bigger than most of the largest suite on board a cruise ship! On top of this, buyers will be able to customise their suite and the layout.

What trends have you seen emerging recently in the cruise interiors industry?

The most obvious trend is of course sustainability, which has become totally critical to all our clients in the last few years. We do what we can to influence both clients and suppliers in the right direction, and we try to make the cruise interiors as renewable and recyclable as possible, including the materials we use. Most of our suppliers are very good nowadays at sourcing and producing materials in a more sustainable way.

We have also found that there’s a lot of focus on a data driven and more analytic design process. So, we must consider flow management, using every square inch of the ship in an even more effective way. For this, we’re using tools to analyse flows and how guests move around the ship, simulating them digitally. It means we can spot bottlenecks and prevent crowds much more effectively. Above all,  we can do it already during the design stage, instead of trying to fix them, at huge costs, afterwards.

Next week you’ll be speaking at Cruise Conversations Live during CSIE. Without giving too much away, can you tell us what we might expect from your session?

We’re trying to make a serious topic a lot of fun, so the title is ‘100 Ways to Blow the Budget (And Some Simple Alternatives)’. Quite often, when you speak about these things, you tend to give a lecture on what to consider. We’re trying to do the opposite, so we will illustrate the best ways to waste money: some of the pitfalls and mistakes that are so easy to make, and how you can prevent them.

Finally, what are you most looking forward to at Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Europe?

I think it’s meeting up with everybody that I haven’t seen for years. We’ve gotten so used to this new reality, but when you actually meet people in person, you realise how much you have missed it. You feel the energy levels rising and you feel something happening, so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing some people we haven’t seen for two, or even three years now. There’s a lot of fantastic people in our industry and we’ve made a lot of friends, so it will be great to see them all again!

Refresh your knowledge, source suppliers for your next project, and connect with representatives from world-leading cruise lines at Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Europe. Find out about the next event here.