A Virgin Voyages’ design panel explains what the cruise operator is achieving by using multiple designers with no previous cruise experience
Virgin Voyages stands out in several ways when it comes to the interior design of its new vessels, not least because it has not only used multiple designers, but those who have never designed for a cruise ship before.
In an event to reveal Virgin Voyages’ first design concepts in May 2018, Virgin Voyages president and chief executive Tom McAlpin said, “We set out to find respected visionaries, set out to find designers who had never worked on ships before to bring a completely new perspective.”
Across the ship, Virgin Voyages partnered with Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio in London, Roman and Williams in New York, Concrete Amsterdam, Softroom in London and WorkAC in New York. Virgin Voyages’ first ship is due for delivery in 2020.
Virgin Voyages opted to use multiple interior designers in order to focus on the strengths of each firm and to show diversity throughout the ship, using a common core theme of Modern Romance of Sailing.
Virgin Voyages senior vice president of design Dee Cooper commented at the Virgin Voyages design panel event in New York “Virgin Voyages is about creating holidays for our sailors [passengers] and creating amazing experiences on board.
“We are lucky enough to have a whole range of opportunities to take their [designers’] strengths and amazing work done on land around the world and use this work on board our ship.”
Mr Dixon commented at the panel event “I like a new adventure so the idea of working on sea for the first time appealed to me a lot and using lots of different designers rather than working with experienced cruise designers which would have been the obvious thing to do. It is quite a risky thing to do by Virgin, to choose designers who had never been on a cruise before. But there is logic to that madness, if it encourages people of a new demographic to go on a cruise, then why not use designers that haven’t been on a cruise.”
Pink Agave, the ship’s upscale modern Mexican restaurant, was designed by Design Research Studio. Electric blue metallic lighting fixtures will cascade from the ceilings above oversized banquettes that line the dining room’s portholes. An elongated curved lounger will centre the room with round tables for two.
Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio founder Tom Dixon commented “There were many challenges, some technical, such as relatively low ceiling heights… I spent quite a lot of time battling them and being inspired by them equally.”
Richard’s Rooftop, also designed by Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio, will be an exclusive outdoor lounge reserved for the ship’s suite guests. It features a futuristic aesthetic with circular loungers, giant umbrellas and accents of dichroic glass that will cast shadows of rainbow reflections across the outdoor lounge.
Concrete Amsterdam was behind the design of the Athletic Club and the Test Kitchen restaurant. The former mixes both sport and the sporting social life, with a huge sunbathing bed and a jogging track on top of the ship, a bar and boxing court, gyms and basketball court among other things.
Concrete partner and head of interior design Lisa Hassanzadeh commented on the Test Kitchen “It is not only a restaurant but a laboratory, so it is very distinguished from other restaurants we have done, with its double function. You can have dinner there at night and it is a cookery school during the day – and not just that, but a laboratory for being the best barista or expert in beer or wine.”
Ms Cooper summed up “Everybody [the designers] challenged us and made us think about the lifestyles we lead in amazing cities or holiday destinations like Miami and Ibiza, and these guys create a holiday romance for everybody.
“It’s a way of uniting thinking about the modern romance of sailing, making sure views and enjoying the ocean are part of the design, and that the ships are very outward looking. It brings a sense of adventure to the right interior spaces.”