Head of design at P&O Australia

Having worked on projects across the globe, Petra Ryberg’s vast expertise in the world of marine interiors has catapulted her into the position of design industry leader. After completing a degree in interior design in Sweden, Petra went on to found her own business, Petra Viktoria Design, a design studio specializing in hospitality interior design. As of 2016, Petra has simultaneously held the position of head of design at P&O Australia, where she ensures quality across the board for the P&O’s fleet in Australia.

This June at the Cruise Ship Interiors Conference, Petra will share her insights with attendees in the ‘Women’s Leadership Forum’. Prior to the event, we took the chance to sit down with Petra to find out about recent projects, trends to come, and more.

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

Currently, I head up the design department for P&O Australia, as well as designing new projects and providing ongoing design maintenance for the brand. My day to day looks extremely different; it could be finding new inspiration by exploring new hotels, cities, restaurants, and projects, to spending hours in [Microsoft] Excel specifying all materials and products for a project. I’m also spending time with the onboard and operational team in order to make sure we can deliver the best design, not only from a looks-perspective but also from an operational viewpoint.

[I] had never even been on a cruise ship before starting to design them but, in my current role, I couldn’t be happier!

What inspired you to venture into the marine industry?

I think I was in the right place at the right time. I used to design hotels and restaurants and had never even been on a cruise ship before starting to design them but, in my current role, I couldn’t be happier!

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

I think one of the greatest opportunities in the business is the complex nature of it. There are so many parts that need to come together and if you are open to it, you
have access to some of the most skilled people in everything from supply chain, finance, marketing, food & beverage, electrical and business development. Even
spending 12 days in dry dock exposes you to the chance of working with highly skilled trades. I try to learn as much as possible from them all!

Every project is unique for me because every ship is unique.

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

Every project is unique for me because every ship is unique. I must say I really did enjoy our latest re-brand of Pacific Explorer. I had a chance to apply many of the lessons learned from other projects and really work closely with both the onboard team and the operational team to ensure maximum flows and, in that way, maximum guest service.

When specifying products, sustainability can definitely be the point that makes me choose one product over another.

In the cruise interiors industry, forecasting trends for the years ahead is vital to stay on top of the game. What trends are you expecting to emerge in the next few years? This could be anything from new lighting solutions to new materials or sustainable solutions and beyond!

I hardly follow trends religiously, I tend to always look for the client’s needs and to design for optimal operational flow which results in a better experience for our
guests. I mostly turn to the fashion industry for colour predictions etc. but I only implement them if it is right for that space. A timeless inspiration for me is nature; I’m always analyzing patterns in the trees and flowers. Obviously, I believe it is all of our responsibility to design as sustainably as possible and that goal should be on the top of our lists. I think there is a need for additional education on how sustainability can be implemented on materials and products meeting IMO standards. When specifying products, sustainability can definitely be the point that makes me choose one product over another.

Using just three words, how would you describe the current state of the cruise interiors industry?

Exciting, evolving, and competitive.

Come June you’ll be speaking in the Cruise Ship Interiors Conference. Without giving too much away, can you tell us what we might expect from your session?

I will be speaking about a topic that is really close to my heart and what I believe is one of the most important topics for any business and country to lift and focus on.

Finally, we have to ask, what are you most looking forward to at the inaugural Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Miami?

I’m excited on a holistic level. How great that the focus is turned on the cruise ship interiors industry and think of all the amazing people I will get to meet!

P.S. Want to know more about Petra’s design journey? Discover her story in our ‘4 Industry Design Names You Need to Know‘ feature.