Dee Cooper,  Senior Vice President of Design and Customer Experience at Virgin Voyages
Dee Cooper, Senior Vice President of Design and Customer Experience at Virgin Voyages

One of the most talked about events in the cruise industry is the launch of Virgin Voyages. Virgin are targeting the younger cruise market, a demographic that has been increasing in recent years. With Scarlet Lady and their recently announced Valiant Lady all eyes are on the newly formed cruise line to see their next innovation. Cruise Ship Interiors Awards are very lucky to have one of the people overseeing this cruise transformation, Dee Cooper, Senior Vice President of Design and Customer Experience, as a judge for their inaugural awards. We caught up with Dee to learn more about the design perspective that has shaped Virgin Voyages’ groundbreaking cruise ships…

Thank you so much for talking to us today. The Cruise Ship Interiors Awards has been created to provide a platform to recognise excellence in design – what makes a great design stand out for you?

Great design for a Cruise Ship is about helping our customers, or Sailors as Virgin Voyages calls them, to make the most of the experience and have a great vacation. The design must create the backdrop, set the scene for a great meal, a day sitting outside on deck in the sun, or an evening spent with friends at a bar. The goal is to encourage our guests to relax, unwind and simply be the best version of themselves, while everything around them intuitively works and delivers a great holiday.  All in all to be a wonderful space to hang out in.

With that in mind, what will you be looking for in the submissions to the categories?

Thoughtful designs that encourage customers to use the spaces in all their aspects, where the designer shows they care about the experience both for crew and sailors. This is reflected in how it flows, how each guest uses it and how it delivers a smooth operation.  Materiality, colour, lighting all need to work together to create an enjoyable harmony.

How does design affect, positively or negatively, the customer experience?

Design is a fundamental building block in creating the whole customer experience and clearly explains to the customers how to use the space intuitively and creates the stage for great service or experiences between friends. Bad design will confuse and frustrate customers making them feel left out.

Virgin Voyages is making waves at the moment ahead of the launch of your first ship, Scarlet Lady. Could you talk us through a little bit of how you approached designing for a new cruise demographic?

We knew we had to be different at Virgin Voyages and chose to work with designers that had never worked on ships before, but had experience in creating amazing hotels and restaurants. When founding the Creative Collective we wanted each of our designers to care passionately about their spaces so that they could create a wide variety of experiences across the ship. We had also fallen in love with the sea and ship building and wanted to celebrate those themes in a contemporary way, honoring our brand promise and using the Modern Romance of Sailing as our navigation guide.

What are you inspired by at the moment?

The balance between the whole architectural volume to the smallest details, it is only through that care that modern consumers value the offer.  The just opened Edition hotel in Times Square to the new Apple iwatch all demand more from us as creatives.

Learn more about submitting your work to the Cruise Interiors Awards here