Cruise interior design
Sky Suite with infinite veranda onboard Celebrity Flora

One of the primary challenges faced by the cruise interior design industry is the limited amount of real estate found onboard cruise ships. Tasked with carrying as many as 6,000 guests, those involved in the interior design process of cruise ships must maximise the functionality and efficiency of every space to ensure not a single square foot is wasted.

Recently, we’ve seen design turn to multipurpose spaces as a way of maximising a ship’s space. Why have a nightclub that sits empty all day when you could have one multipurpose venue that serves numerous purposes and guests across a 24-hour period?

Given the emerging trend of multigenerational travel, cruise lines are now hoping to serve wider audiences and thus cater to more tastes. Multipurpose spaces can satisfy a handful of tastes easily, so it’s clear why their popularity is on the rise.

Successful multipurpose spaces

In recent years we’ve seen numerous design innovations that have emerged due to the need to serve multiple areas and needs. Kelly Hoppen’s famous infinite verandas found onboard Celebrity Edge are just one example of this type of design. Once again, their advent emerged from what at first was an issue. As you might expect, cabins with balconies are hugely favoured amongst cruisegoers, but they can pose their fair share of challenges to outfitters, given the fact that building new balconies requires putting substantial amounts of weight on the logistically worst part of the ship, the top and sides. Hoppen’s infinite verandas neatly solved cruise lines’ concern regarding adding more balconies in. The new concept provided spacious staterooms that also convert to encompass a generously sized balcony, allowing guests to take in those oh-so-coveted ocean views.

In fact, multipurpose spaces have become so popular that one land-based hotel even tried to have its design patented (and succeeded!) The WorkLife room was designed to give guests the elusive balance between working life and personal life in a single hotel room. It used innovative design and technology to ensure guests received a great night’s sleep, whilst also having sufficient room to work.

Speaking on the importance of multipurpose spaces, Torsten Hirche, sound designer and technical director for TUI Cruises Entertainment Berlin commented: “Space on ships is limited so designers often try to ensure a single space has multiple functions.” He continued, going on to cite an example onboard one of TUI’s very own vessel, “our Klanghaus room enables guests to enjoy live classical music with the audio characteristics of an opera house, thanks to its integrated audio modelling system. A few hours later, there will be a theatre show with live actors, in the evening it can become a lounge or movie theatre, and the next morning host a presentation of the next destination – all in one room!” With the help of emerging technologies, cruise lines are able to incorporate as many as four distinct venues into just one space, saving time and money in the process.

At Cruise Ship Interiors Expo America’s 2019 conference, head of design at dSign Vertti Kivi & Co, award-winning interior designer Vertti Kivi explained his love for multipurpose spaces, firstly questioning “Why don’t we have [spaces] in a way that it can be changing? So there are actually three spaces in one.” Nowadays, to designers at least, having multifunctional rooms is nothing more than logical and intuitive. Vertti suggests producing a design that incorporates not just physical changes (wall coverings, dividers, and so on) but also atmospheric changes, or as he calls it “living space”. For example, why not adjust the light based on the time of the day? Bright and cold for the morning, but warm and low hanging in the evening. As we know, things like light, texture, and furniture can greatly affect a space’s mood and the guest’s experience of it.

What are the benefits?

As well as potentially broadening a cruise line’s market to cater to a wider audience, multipurpose spaces offer a handful of other benefits.

Utilising multipurpose spaces means cruise lines are able to keep up with trends in a timelier manner. If the room’s initial design incorporates the ability to adapt and make changes from the get-go, it gives designers and outfitters far more flexibility in the future. So instead of a full refit, small alterations can be made to align with guest’s changing tastes. According to Simon Dawkins, the commercial manager at interior outfitting firm Trimline, multipurpose spaces can “keep an old ship feeling fresh” because “the basic hardware is there” for the outfitters to work with in the future.

Multipurpose spaces also allow for venues to be switched up based on a ship’s itinerary, as well as providing more choice to guests and personalisation options. In short, the possibilities provided by multipurpose spaces are endless.

Once again it appears that what began as a challenge has evolved into yet another opportunity for interior designers to get creative and experiment with space.

Have you seen any great multipurpose spaces lately? Share them with us using the hashtag #CSI2020 on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.