During the recent webinar, Cruise Conversations: Covid-10 – Putting a Positive Spin on the Elephant in the Room, Toby Walters asked industry leaders what their top design priority would be after the global pandemic. Would the pandemic change their approach to design in any way? With My Nguyen, Director Interior Design & Operations, Seabourn & Holland America Line, and Petu Kummala, Senior Director of Interior Design & Architecture, Carnival Cruise Line, gracing the panel, the discussion had been decidedly interiors focused but with this question the focus switched to something unexpected: hospitality.

Petu highlighted that ‘good design starts from a good plan’. Designers will now need to factor cleaning and maintenance into their design, and think how to ensure this is possible without overly disrupting cruise passengers. While cleaning is traditionally an operational consideration, it must now become a design priority too.

Protocols surrounding cleaning and hygiene aboard cruise ships will be changing and suppliers must factor that into their decision making. My addressed vendors directly, saying that:

“For all of you vendors out there, if it’s furniture, or surfaces or fabrics. Imagine that the protocols of how we are going to be cleaning our materials is going to be tenfold. If a chair is going to be rubbed down with an abrasive material five times a day, how is going to look like for the chair in three months?”

As someone who heads up a design and operations team, she has the unique perspective of valuing beautiful design and also being intimately acquainted with the operational challenges of a design that isn’t functioning well. Maintenance, she says will be the big issue going forward.

Petu added to that point with a recommendation. ‘If you supply fabrics, work together with housekeeping. What materials will they use, what cleaning products? How will they react together?’, he queried. His message was that collaboration was key, ‘Suppliers who supply the cleaning products and suppliers who supply the materials should work together.’

Interiors suppliers can get the edge in the post-covid-19 market by collaborating with hospitality suppliers. Suppliers who have these important conversations and work together will be able to fulfil the cruise lines’ new priorities. My expressed further interest in what suppliers and those wanting to work with the cruise lines could get the cruise lines’ attention. She said, “Any products or ideas that’s going to help the guest feel safe when they’re vacationing, and help us stretch our dollars so then we’re not having to replace it all the time.”

As a result of the global interest in sustainability, many companies are already working on materials that are longer lasting and adaptable to cruise needs. One example is Fil Doux’ product Otratex, a bleach-clean vinyl replacement which biodegrades within 30 years in a standard landfill. Other companies such as Baumann Dekor already provide materials to the medical, health and wellbeing industry, such as their Bio Tex Plus. They may be able to apply their knowledge of one sector to their maritime business.

Stay tuned to Cruise Conversations to hear more on the crucial conversations by the industry leaders: