5 December 2024
ExCeL London

SMC Design – Spirit of Discovery

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Company Name: SMC Design
Project Name: Spirit of Discovery
Cruise Line: Saga Cruises

To provide architectural and wayfinding signage solutions that complement the interior décor elements of the luxury boutique hotel.

What is it?
Onboard Spirit of Discovery, SMC Design were tasked with providing architectural and wayfinding solutions that sat in harmony with the design narrative of the luxury boutique hotel.

From the wayfinding in the stair lobbies and corridors to the statement ‘LIDO’ sign in the main pool area, the signs had to be informative, simple and clean sitting harmoniously within their environment.

This design style flowed from the cabins through to the stern of the ship to ensure that the luxury boutique hotel was recognizably ‘Saga’ without being too literal and corporate in execution.

The Design
From the beginning it was established that one of the design cues leading our train of thought was to focus on the quality and craft of the signage package and disregard any modern execution of signage such as digital wayfinding. Another was an attempt to distance the ships wayfinding from any marine terminology, enforcing the boutique hotel mindset onto passengers but in a recognizable and subtle fashion.

We took inspiration from the philosophy and illustrations of London tube maps – using a point to point system that disregards the size and scale of the ship. The level of information shown was clear, concise and uncluttered with the intention that when guests would arrive at their destination, one of the hotel crew would be on hand to assist their journey. For the interior of lifts, there is no sign of any digital influence, with glazed numerical icons above the doors providing a timeless nostalgic feel to the lift interior.

For guests to easily locate their living quarters, the conventional ‘deck’ and ‘cabin number’ system was implemented alongside a streamlined version of the wayfinding map – highlighting to the guest only the cabin they are on and not those above or below. This, in tandem with the passenger corridors that had specific artists artwork along the walls, was a simple and cohesive solution to signify to guests their whereabouts in the hotel. In terms of materials, signs used in common spaces such as stair halls and corridors echoed those used within the interior décor.

This balance of materials used for the interiors continues through to the architectural signage, none more so than the application of metalwork on textured glazing and stone featured respectively within the two speciality restaurants, Coast to Coast and East to West. This subtle integration is also seen within The South Cape Bar, where Victorian-era inspired tiling used at the entrance has inlayed pewter metal welcoming the guest to the area.

On occasion in the hotel, the architectural signage has a definitive presence within the space, none more so than the one featured in the hotels main pool area, The Lido. Following the concept of the space, the sign is recognisable to those used within 1930’s lido’s and features proudly underneath the large backdrop to the area, the funnel. Outlined boldly with a black metal trim, in the evening the sign illuminates along with the architectural details of the area.

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