Our latest adventure has lead us beyond the boardroom and hotel bedroom and out on to the open sea. Tasked with reimagining the modern cruise experience we’ve been working with Virgin Voyages on their first ship.
Virgin invited us to work with them on the project as we’d never worked on a cruise ship before. We took inspiration from the future, from mobile communities exploring uncharted waters, where the journey is as important as the destination, creating environments that are theatrical , unexpected and forward looking using high quality materials and a bold narrative to take the customer on a series of unexpected adventures.
“I quite like coming at something from a completely different angle and presumably there is a method to that madness. If you’re going to be disruptive then maybe you shouldn’t know that much about how a cruise line is currently operated.”
Virgin and Sir Richard Branson have always pushed the boundaries of human possibilities. The cruise ship is an opportunity for this to become a reality for the masses. From the highest heights to the depth of the ocean nowhere is off limits and the world is your oyster.
We started at the top of ship with the VIP rooftop – an outdoor private club between the bow and the bridge where we created a series of freestanding sky rooms, sunken conversation pits, elevated pools giant and screened it with dichroic glass that changes with the shifting natural light.
At sea there is freedom to provide new experiences to new things, unrestrained by the norms of the past and a typical urban lifestyle.
Heading inside the ship, our pendant lighting will adorn the entryway to Pink Agave, the ship’s upscale modern Mexican restaurant. Electric blue metallic lighting fixtures will cascade from the ceilings above oversized banquets that line the dining room’s portholes. An elongated curved lounger centers the room with round tables for two offering an intimate dining experience. The upscale restaurant will feature a bar area in the foyer and a private dining room for larger groups.
Sailors enter through a dramatic portal inspired by the bright light of the city and the futuristic nautical landscape of sea creatures and submarines. We played with natural and artificial lighting throughout the space to allow it to change from day to night. During the day sunlight through the porthole window washes over natural materials and vibrant colours whilst at night intimate lighting transform the restaurant into a mysterious underground space.
The restaurant creates a series of different experiences from the intimate bar the space opens into the main room that is defined by low curving central banquette that encourages sharing and conversation between sailors with more intimate booth around the perimeter beneath the ships portals. The restaurant also features communal tasting tables and a mirrored private room.
The design process has been fascinating as building a ship is proving to be more like product design than architecture where entire sections are prototyped, refined and then finally built as individual modules that are then plugged together to create what will become a floating city. The ship is all about creating an ‘Epic sea change for all’ and we continuing to explore the ship with Virgin, freed from the restraints of a permanent location the ship becomes a utopian craft floating between fixed points, celebrating the diversity of the sea.
To boldly go…
Project by Tom Dixon's Design Research Studio. Visit our website for more projects, inspiration and contact details.