How Spirit of Discovery and Spirit of Adventure each reflect a different interpretation of ‘British contemporary classic’ design criteria
Saga Cruises’ new cruise ships Spirit of Discovery and Spirit of Adventure both embrace a British contemporary classic ethos – but each ship interprets this in a completely different way.
Saga Cruises newbuild director David Pickett tells Passenger Ship Interior and Refurbishment Review “We wanted to ensure each ship has a distinct look and feel. We are too small a business for cookie-cutter designs and that is not our ethos anyway. Boutique cruising is a tailored experience. We wanted the ships to have a hotel luxury feel where each person is treated as an individual. We wanted each ship space to have a distinct character, to take a rather more personal and tailored experience into a modern cruise ship.”
To ensure each ship encompasses a different interpretation of Saga Cruises’ design criteria, the cruise ship operator used two different design agencies: SMC Design for Spirit of Discovery, which was delivered in 2019, and AD Associates for Spirit of Adventure, which is due to be delivered in August 2020.
Mr Pickett expands, “We see these ships as British contemporary classics and we allow the skilled designers to interpret that in different ways. We do not necessarily have a corporate look, but we have a belief in contemporary design that is appealing to British tastes. It is not a heritage or twee look it is a bold, dynamic British design and is about showing off the best of British hotel design.”
Speaking about Spirit of Discovery, he says “SMC Design brought together a unique design in collaboration with me and my team that reflects some of the signatures we have on existing ships but has taken them into the modern context. They could understand and interpret what the zeitgeist is in British modern hotel design and bridge the gap between the older ships we have and take advantage of the new platform we now have.”
He singles out how British design elements like mid-century furniture, interesting carpet designs and wall coverings are deployed to create an understated and authentic hotel design on Spirit of Discovery.
In contrast, Spirit of Adventure, designed by AD Associates, pushed the design further and “made it bolder”. Mr Pickett expands “London hotel design is quite dynamic, so we have used modern features and modern art to bring aspects that are more challenging around the interiors. Some spaces are very strong in design.”
He singles out the artwork as an example. “The artwork will be interesting and challenging, going from figurative to abstract with many different types of art media.” SMC Design is continuing to provide the artwork for the ship, as well as the signage.
Elsewhere, he says the carpet designs are strong throughout while being consistent with the overall look of vessel, and the furniture is more modern. “We have worked with all the furniture manufacturers to come up with something quite striking,” he says.
Colours including deep greens and mustards, strong use of geometric patterns and a lot of contrasting materials are being used to outline the shape of the different spaces on board.
Another difference between the two cruise ships are the cabins. While they have the same layout, all materials used have been revised. In Spirit of Adventure, the fixed furniture is in a light ash finish, with a brass finish on lamps and a different framing to artwork, with dynamic carpet designs. “There is a greater variety of design within the cabin interiors on Adventure and more mix and match. There are four basic designs for our standard cabins, allowing a greater degree of uniqueness to get that sense of individuality and boutique sense to ship.”
One of the stand-out interior features on Spirit of Discovery is the central bronze artwork in the Living Room (atrium). The relief includes motifs of landscapes, industrial and cultural influences from across the British Isles. Designed inhouse by design associate Alun Roberts, it was created by the Shropshire company Feathercast Limited in 35 pieces.
Mr Pickett comments “This central bronze wall sculpture was extremely well received and is a truly central feature of the ship. Now we are doing something completely different (in Adventure).”
The British artist Petr Weigl was commissioned to create an artwork for the forward wall that is inscribed with the biographies of famous Britons from over the past 400 years. Mr Pickett says “Whereas the relief on Discovery was quite curved, this is more angular. It is a more subtle and softer piece of work that looks like layered Portland stone. People can look at it for a long time reading the beautiful engravings which are all part of the design.”
Another change between the two ships is that Spirit of Adventure has different restaurants and entertainment spaces. It will have a new Nepalese restaurant that has a Gurkha theme in food and design. “There is a link between Saga Cruises and the Gurkhas, as they have a garrison in Folkestone (Saga’s headquarters), and we like to give a nod to the area in a subtle way,” says Mr Pickett.
Another new restaurant is Amalfi, focusing on dishes from around Italy.
Saga is also changing the Club. On Spirit of Discovery, this is a two-tier restaurant with a big opening. But on Spirit of Adventure, “we have remodelled that entire area to create a dedicated cabaret supper club space that mixes dining, entertainment and dancing,” says Mr Pickett. “It is a much more intimate jazz club that gives us different options.”
He sums up “The differences between the ships allows guests to find something that is right for them.”
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