From left: Greg Walton, Jorge Mesa, “Enzo,” Yohandel Ruiz, Javier Calle.

Starting up shop late last year, a group of cruise ship interior designers has already outgrown their office space and is expanding.

“We decided to branch out on our own, be smaller and more boutique, giving personalized attention to our clients,” said Yohandel Ruiz, partner at Studio DADO. Ruiz works alongside fellow partners Greg Walton, Javier Calle and Jorge Mesa.

Projects include Carnival Cruise Line’s so-called Project Excel ships, Norwegian’s Leonardo class, and various refurbishment jobs.

Ruiz said the main focus for the company now is on Norwegian’s upcoming Leonardo vessels, of which the first delivery is scheduled for 2022.

“We’re very lucky to handle a multitude of different assignments. We can do anything from staterooms to corridors to public venues like restaurants, show lounges and spas,” he said.

When it comes to cabins, the design firm considers every millimeter in stateroom design, according to Calle.

“We try to find duel functions. That may mean a table can become a bench, or flip into an ottoman,” he explained. “Different components with the room can have a double or triple function, save space and not make the cabin feel as crowded.”

When it comes to public spaces, the market has become more sophisticated, according to Ruiz.

“Guests and travelers are more design savvy,” he said. “It is going less thematic and trends are moving a lot faster.

“Its really about engagement and the guest experience, and how they use the space.

“We try to think forward, and look at the ship in eight or nine years. We want the designs to be more timeless.”

Technology is a big play, as the smartphone has revolutionized the vacation experience.

“When there are lot of apps you can use … there is a lot of opportunity there to kind of integrate technology into the ship,” Ruiz added.

“Celebrity announced Edge and there was a direct response from the other brands,” continued Ruiz. “The Joy came out with go karts, and it pushed the envelope. It is a competitive, healthy spirit where they are always trying to outdo each other.”

Designing for low vibration requirements, saving weight wherever possible and additional ADA access are key elements at the base of new ship designs for the team at Studio DADO.

“It’s really about understanding and designing for the future. Design trends are moving so fast, and the key is delivering something three years from now which looks fresh and current.”

That means innovation.

“(The cruise lines) want to be innovators and put something out to the market that will be new for guests and on par with technology.”

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