Strong design vision and comprehensive project management capabilities will be essential ingredients if the cruise industry is to capitalise on fast-changing passenger demographics, according to YSA Design.
The ship interior and exterior architect has been bringing its design and project management skills to a main deck conversion of a European-built ship to meet Asian cruising tastes at a Chinese yard.
YSA Design’s participation in conversion work at a Chinese shipyard has brought timely insight into a market preparing to meet local demand, explained YSA Design chief executive Anne Mari Gullikstad.
“The emergence of this exciting market is a driver for growth and a seismic shift for the industry, posing new challenges for ship designers,” said Ms Gullikstad. “Through a combination of study trips and diligent research, we realised that adapting existing cruise ships for this new market involves more than simple cosmetic change. We have to strike a balance between aesthetic and functional requirements for a new audience which requires a variety of dining experiences, larger and specific retail areas, dedicated spaces for group activities, exercise and entertainment events, and a real focus on gaming arenas.”
YSA Design emerged after a 2016 management buy-in at Petter Yran & Bjørn Storbraaten, which has been involved in cruise ship innovation for 30 years.
“There’s a new intensity since the restructuring, but what remains unchanged is that there won’t be a generic YSA Design,” Ms Gullikstad said. “We develop unique designs for cruise ships and land-based customers, working to achieve what the client wants in harmony with the ship, passenger experience, crew needs and service delivery. That is following through to our work for ships serving Asian clientele.”
It is a philosophy that has led the YSA Design team into areas of specialisation in developing both interior and exterior spaces. Ms Gullikstad also points to the immersive theatre designed for Holland America Line’s Koningsdam, with its central stage and wraparound video canvas that could make repeat passengers out of new cruisers.
Looking ahead, Ms Gullikstad said “One emphasis is to grow 3D modelling, where we invested in the latest hardware and software after the restructuring. Our goal is to grow to 35-40 staff, while ensuring that experienced leaders manage every project.”