Studio DADO are closing out a year that, despite the circumstances, has had plenty to celebrate. The young design company has celebrated their 4th year in business. In February they won the award for Best Cabin Design at Cruise Ship Interiors Awards, for their work on Sky Princess. And they’ve recently announced they’re the sole interior architect for Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ latest newbuild.

American Cruise Lines (ACL) also announced that they have worked with Studio DADO on their new domestic river cruise ship American Melody. This is the first time ACL have worked with an exterior designer.

We talked to the team at Studio DADO about what it means to be the sole interior architect of a vessel, the role of design in creating bespoke experiences aboard luxury ships and how teamwork creates trust in their clients.

And yes, we tried to get a few details about the new Regent Seven Seas ship…

What differences are there in starting a design project for the whole ship in comparison to part of the ship?

When you’re doing the whole ship, it requires that you zoom out and look big picture as opposed to just focusing on individual spaces. When you’re in charge of the whole ship, how spaces flow together and communicate is under your control. Requires that when you’re designing individual spaces, you have to be more cognizant of the spaces around you, as they’re also your spaces. You need to zoom out and maintain the flow and communication between the spaces.

Being the sole architect, it’s easier to control those transitions as we don’t have to coordinate with another architect to get in sync. We have more control. At the same time, we have to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks since it’s all on us.

Studio DADO’s work on Regent Seven Seas’ latest newbuild

As sole architects, we have decisions under our control that you wouldn’t have if you were working on an individual space.

Take Allura, for example; we’re essentially the sole architects (Tillberg are doing public bathrooms). This includes decisions on how things happen on the exterior. We’re responsible for coordinating all the glass for the windows and balconies on the ship.

Even when we’re doing an individual space, zooming out of the space and seeing what’s forward and aft, above and below as all those factors affect the design of the room. Examples, calculations of the escape of the venue. Design is more than enhancing the guest experience, but also about the safety and comfort of the guest.

How important is design in creating the bespoke experience that so many passengers desire?

It’s paramount. It’s what the guests first see when they arrive onto the ship. The visual experience of the design is how we make the first and last impression. With every ship the bar of design is set higher and higher.

Of course, many things are under wraps for now – but is there anything you can tell us as a sneak-peak?

Everyone knows what Explorer and Splendor are like, and what the Regent brand represents. This will build on a continuation of the Regent brand.

Studio DADO has had a memorable year, amid the worst year for our industry. What do you contribute the success of the year to?

We attribute it to our team. We’re very lucky to have one of the most dedicated and talented teams in the design industry. They’re always raising the bar and pushing the envelope of design. Because of them, we deliver incredible design solutions for our clients. The clients that we have recognize our talent and have gained great trust in what we deliver. We give all that credit to the team. We are very lucky and blessed to have the clients we have, in particular Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and their brands. The trust they have bestowed on us to design and deliver their new build and refurbishment has allowed us to have this year.

Our clients and our fantastic team are what have led to our success.

What should we expect from Studio DADO in 2021?

We’re expanding into new markets. You’ll be seeing more of Studio DADO’s work in the Expedition Market and the Domestic Cruise Market.

Yes, you’re also the sole interior designer on American Melody, ACL’s modern and elegant new river cruise vessel. It was your first time designing for a domestic river cruise vessel – could you talk us about your vision for that vessel and the inspiration for the design?  

The different itineraries and ports of call as well as America in general were the inspiration for our designs. We took hues and color palettes seen throughout the United States an interpreted them into intimate, relaxing and comfortable environments for guest to enjoy.

It seems as though domestic cruise in the US is expanding – what makes it enticing for guests? And how have you taken that into consideration for your design?

Local travel for the US has become more commonplace after the pandemic. This cruise offers guests the opportunity to see our great country with the comforts of knowing they are ‘home’. Most guests want to enjoy something different on vacation but knowing that they still have a sense of ‘home’ allows guests to thoroughly enjoy their stay while on board. By creating comfortable living areas throughout the lounges and accommodations gives the essence as though its an extension of a guests home.

That’s great, we’ll keep an eye out for that. 2020 is drawing to a close and a lot of companies are taking stock of a very unusual year. We want to tap into some Studio DADO wisdom! What lessons have you learned from COVID?

Having experienced the rebound of the industry after 9/11 and the great recession in 2008, we believed the cruise industry was unshakable. The impact of COVID on the cruise industry made us realize that nothing is infallible. We understand the need to diversify our work portfolio and continue to make sound financial decisions. Though we had to take measures, we are now preparing for a busy year of new build projects and new markets.

Thank you so much for speaking to us. We can’t wait to see all the new designs from Studio DADO in the coming year.