well-known among the entire cruise interior design community, Studio DADO has been part of some of the industry’s most exciting projects in recent years. Having just returned from their work on Carnival Mardi Gras, we spoke with founding partners Jorge Mesa and Javier Calle. 

Below you’ll find Jorge and Javier’s collaborative responses to our quick-fire Q&A!

We last spoke with the DADO team back in December 2018. Can you tell us about any interesting projects or developments the studio has worked on?

We are working on some exciting newbuild projects for Norwegian Cruise Line’s Project Leonardo, creating various public states and staterooms, as well as the latest ship for Oceania Cruises – Allura.  For Allura, we have been retained to develop the design for the majority of the spaces on the ship which is a particularly exciting opportunity.  Additionally, we continue to work on several revitalization projects including the widely publicized Oceania Insignia along with Oceania SirenaRegent Seven Seas Navigator,  NCL Getaway, and Carnival Sunrise.

Studio DADO recently provided spa refurbishment for Carnival Sunrise. With limited space to work with, how do you ensure guests still receive the same luxury spa experience they would expect from a, potentially more spacious, land-based resort?

When designing spas at sea, we focus on the flow, transitions and sightlines between the different spaces within the spa, to make sure the guest experience is a seamless and memorable one.

We are very adept at maximizing every inch of square footage, ensuring that guests receive all the possible amenities land-based spas provide. On Carnival Sunrise we were able to provide guests with a thermal suite where they can experience a steam room, infrared sauna, standard sauna, heated loungers, and experiential showers. The spa also provides a spacious full-service salon with manicure and pedicure station, barber station, medi-spa, etc. The spa area provides a relaxation lounge, treatment rooms, and a VIP couples suite. The fitness area has a motion studio, stretch area, consultation areas among the usual fitness amenities provided.

Tell us how the design process differs when providing interiors to a space that is arguably more complex than a bar or a suite, such as a spa?

Spas on cruise ships are uniquely challenging because a spa is really made up of different smaller spaces with different functions, this means that we have to know how to navigate through the various safety regulations and restrictions that govern passenger vessels.  Our advantage is our experience with spas.  We understand the many components required for a memorable spa experience, and embrace each design with that challenge, always keeping regulations and restrictions in mind.

Cruise Ship Interiors Expo recently published a feature on cruise colour palettes. Are there any colours you would favour or err away from when designing for a spa environment? 

We really try not to restrict ourselves with prescribed formulas, it all depends on the “big idea” or concept, and although we are careful and studious when it comes to the use of colour, really nothing is off the table. However, when it comes to spas, a softer more soothing colour palette is usually preferred by clients and guests. Although that is not to say that a more bold colour palette can’t be used – it all depends on the client and the demographic that is trying to be captured. A younger demographic can be more receptive to experiencing something more out of the box while an older demographic is usually more comfortable with more neutral, soft pale colours. Although we are careful and studious when it comes to the use of colour, we reiterate, nothing is off the table.

When designing for major cruise lines, the interiors you create will be largely dependent on the line’s existing brand image. How do you ensure you create unique interiors while honouring the cruise line’s image?

This is where our collective experience really pays off, over the years working in this industry, we have really developed an intimate understanding of each of the brands that we work with, and their respective demographics. Having said this, we also understand that the market is continuously evolving, as is the competition, so we do work hand in hand with our clients trying to provide them with strategic yet impactful design solutions that catapult their brand into the future. For example, with our recent spa project on Carnival Sunrise, we subtly carried the ‘fun’ element of the brand into the design of the spa, by adding a playful yet sophisticated graphic on the feature wall in each treatment room. We chose soft coloured abstract prints of tropical flowers to achieve a ‘fun’ yet soft look.

We definitely encourage forward-thinking design, sometimes throwing our clients out of their comfort zone; but that’s where exciting new design can happen.

Cruise Ship Interiors Expo is lucky enough to have both Greg and Javier speaking on its conference this June. Can you tell us what to expect from each session?

We’re very much looking forward to the expo in its entirety. Javier is a panellist for ‘Design Trends 2022’ on Thursday, June 20, in which a group of experts will discuss trends towards land-based hospitality, while connecting guests to an authentic experience, among other trending topics.

Greg will be presenting ‘Design Process & Collaboration: A Smarter Way to Collaborate’ directly after Javier’s session at 11:00am. In this session, Greg will walk attendees through his vision of a smarter way to collaborate, across multiple stakeholders, departments and organizations.

Aside from our sessions, we’re excited to exhibit. We invite everyone to visit our booth 337 to learn more about our company, our team, and about Miami, our hometown!