Last updated: 04:30 PM ET, Wed September 14 2016

TravelPulse Exclusive: Carnival Corp. Designers Discuss Cruise Ship Interiors and Tips

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Carnival Cruise Line | Jason Leppert | September 14, 2016

TravelPulse Exclusive: Carnival Corp. Designers Discuss Cruise Ship Interiors and Tips

Photo courtesy of Carnival Corporation

When Carnival Corporation presented a list of design tips for the home, we wanted to take it further and interview some of the designers directly, asking them about cruise ship design, inspirations and recommended research.

To start, the company originally presented the following five tips:

1. Step back and really look at your space and do a deep think about how you want to move within that space.

2. Be creative with color choices (you can always change your mind and repaint).

3. Design for yourself. If you love the design, it is successful.

4. Use inexpensive LED lights to highlight art and create other "wow" effects.

5. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Always simplify, edit and then edit again.

READ MORE: First Look: New Dining and New Designs Across Seabourn's Fleet

Now, to our in-depth exclusive interview with Petu Kummala, Director, Interior Design and Architecture, Carnival Cruise Line and My Nguyen, Holland America Line's deputy director of interior design, as they each answer our set of questions below.

How do you deal with multiple designers across multiple onboard venues in order to maintain design harmony across the entire ship?

PK: "This can be challenging but the key for me is to have good communication and strong relationships with all the different designers which then enables them to have an open dialogue among themselves as well. I’ve always believed we are all a big team, from owners to designers to everyone at the shipyard building the spaces.

The goal is really not to have a look of similarity across all the spaces. There are so many different types of venues and it is important to differentiate, especially with the stand-alone spaces whereas the main core should have more harmony."

MN: "We meet and have discussions in person and on the phone. Communication and development of a common umbrella theme and direction helps this process. Not every room has to look the same but we want to approach design with a common interpretation and overall design, and then we also have to keep checking and making sure we are staying focused."

There seems to be a design shift away from the extravagant Joe Farcus approach to a more refined and modern aesthetic. How would you describe that evolution?

PK: "Much of this has simply stemmed from the evolution of design in general towards a simpler and modern direction which you can see in different fields of design around the world. This also began to occur with Joe’s designs when our approach shifted from a strong theme-based design. At the same time, it is important not to be too generic which can lead to boring. For longer cruises especially, we want our guests to discover something new in our designs even if it’s the last day of their cruise."

MN: "For Holland America Line, we have always been more nautical and classic in our design approach. We design with bold patterned carpets, furniture in rich colorful hues and elaborate architectural details in the walls and ceilings. With Koningsdam and our major enhancements, we have embraced the modern aesthetic and looked at earthy tones, sleek curves, and modern lighting and art to incorporate into design elements. The end result, however, must be true to the Holland America Line brand so while the Koningsdam has a more modern appeal and is lighter in tones, it still feels like Holland America Line."

How important is it to consider negative space within a limited footprint and not over-designing a venue?

PK: "It is very important, not only from an over-designing point of view but also from the standpoint of passenger flow, ease of movement throughout the space and the vessel overall.  We are limited with space and need to be very effective. From the pure design point of view, I see negative space as very important in the same way it is important in lighting -- where the shadow is often as important as the light itself."

MN: "Very important. You will see that today in Koningsdam, and enhancement projects.  Negative space provides the viewer, or guest, with focus and structure to appreciate the overall design and the feelings it evokes. In a stateroom for example, we want guests to be relaxed, feel very comfortable and at home. That’s tough to do with a lot of busy design going on all over the room. Strong color and rich tones with attention drawing negative space to evoke the desired results are good."

What are some of your favorite cruise ship venues that you have designed or simply admire?

PK: "Costa Diadema Spa and Shops are two of my favorites. Not because they are the latest but because they both are designed as multiple areas within one area so there is a lot of complexity and different materials and design work involved. For example, in the spa area, while it is one cohesive space and design, there are 10-15 different designs within. I wouldn’t say I admire any of the work I have done. It seems odd to do that. OK, maybe the saunas on some of the ships that I’ve designed, being that I’m a Finn."

MN: "I’m really happy about the new Gallery Bars on Eurodam and Oosterdam. We set out to create a fun, casual vibe where our guests could enjoy conversation and a cocktail. By using the artwork, we added conversation pieces as well. You want a bar to be a place where people gather and enjoy themselves in a relaxed environment. I also like the work by Adam Tihany in the Dining Room on Koningsdam. The room is beautiful with sleek, curved lines and the white is powerful as a palate for accent colors in the lights, carpet and artwork."

READ MORE: TravelPulse On Board: Koningsdam Review

What is the greatest lesson you have learned from a design that didn’t work?

PK: "I often repeat a quote I heard somewhere a long time ago: 'If you never fail, you will never succeed.' I believe strongly in that and think that the biggest thing you can learn from a failure is to not be afraid of it because it will teach you something."

"More specifically, the biggest lesson I’ve learned from a failure probably had something to do with not using a certain material in certain design because it simply didn’t materialize the way you envisioned it. It looked good on paper but not in real life. That can happen."

Do you ever try to tell a story with your design work?

PK: "Yes. Sometimes stories can be obvious although often they are not but I do think the design should have a story or a meaning behind it. Whether it relates to the space, owner, backstory of the original space (for example when creating a restaurant out of an old factory space and using something original in the design but in a clever way that is not obvious), design is always better and more meaningful when there is a relatable story behind it."

MN: "Yes, all the time. It doesn’t mean we force a theme into every aspect but every project starts with some inspiration. Koningsdam began with music as inspiration. For example, the elegant Queen's Lounge was designed to feel as if you are inside a violin looking out or the atrium showcases a multi-floor sculpture with a design that resembles strings in an instrument."

What kind of design research do you recommend?

PK: "I strongly recommend traveling, visiting different places, talking to people and simply keeping your eyes open no matter where you are. Next time you sit down at an airport, bar, restaurant, park or wherever, and whether you are with someone or alone, put down your smartphone and look around."

"Do so not just to take glance but to really look around and observe the surrounding buildings, people, nature and whatever is within your view. Let that inspire you and sink in. Also, there are so many museums and other places where you can visit and learn by looking and touching different objects and techniques. The Internet is so easily available that it is where people often go for inspiration. While it can be a good tool, overusing it definitely is not. Traveling around and seeing and experiencing different places will always provide some of the greatest inspiration."

MN: "Be observant when you walk, talk, watch, and just live. I got some of my best inspiration by paying attention to things around me.

For example, the colors for the Koningsdam's verandah cabins are the result of a visit to the port city of Venice. I spotted an old faded blue building. At the base of the building there was black algae that graduated to grey as it grew towards the top. In contrast, next to the building was a bright new terra cotta structure. This unusual color combination was an inspiration that became the color palette."


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