Projects at Studio DADO range from stateroom design on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Project Leonardo class of ships (debuting in 2023) to refurbishment work for Oceania and Carnival, as well as stateroom design on the new Carnival Mardi Gras, and the entire crew area aboard the Seabourn Venture expedition vessel.
The quickly-growing Miami-based group is now at 16 employees and will design all of the new Oceania Allura-class vessels apart from the theater, according to Greg Walton, one of the company’s four partners.
The start up got going in 2016, with Walton working alongside Javier Calle, Jorge L. Mesa and Yohandel Ruiz in a cramped 862-square-foot apartment in Miami Beach. Company offices now stand at 2,800-square-feet as the growth continues.
Stateroom design has become one of the company’s expertise areas over the years, as Walton was involved in Oasis- and Solstice-class cabins, gaining experience in interlocking staterooms, which allowed cruise lines to put in more rooms per deck.
“Stateroom design is different depending on the brand, recognizing what the brand is and who the guest is,” Walton said. “The major thing is you don’t want to waste one square millimeter.”
On the new Carnival Mardi Gras, closets will be customizable, with fold down shelves, shoe racks and more, so guests can adapt the storage to their needs.
“It will give the flexibility for the guest to tailor things to the way they live and travel,” Walton explained.
There is also careful attention paid to the manufacturing process as staterooms are generally built on an assembly line pre-fab style. Walton likes being able to use the same closet doors, vanities and other pieces for every stateroom category to control costs.
While design packages go to the owner and yard, the cabin manufacturer is also heavily involved, and Studio DADO likes to bring the subcontractor in early on the project to get feedback on the manufacturing side well in advance.
“It’s a collaborative process of engaging the builder sooner in the design process,” Walton continued. “When we had delivered the (Mardi Gras) cabin package, it had already been vetted by the cabin maker.”
“We are trying to streamline the entire process of working with owners and shipyards, delivering something more expeditiously than in the past,” said Walton.
Project timelines are tighter than ever, Walton said, as cruise lines make design decisions later than they used to, and shipyards have found new ways to build vessels faster.
“It’s about working smarter and more efficiently, and hand-in-hand with the owner and the shipyard to get everyone’s buy-in in a more efficient way to build the ship.”
Future casting” is among the new terms – looking into the future at who the guests aboard may be, and the evolution of the cruise product. Venues can change during the build and design process, meaning Walton and team must have some time built in for adjustments if necessary.
While around 75 percent of the work load is newbuild based, there are numerous refurbishment projects.
“There is only so much newbuild capacity you can put out,” Walton said.”
“Cruise lines are retaining their existing fleet longer than they had in past, which means bigger investments to keep the fleet viable.”
Based in Miami, the company is next door to the big three cruise lines.
“We are readily available and take on the projects that may be have a crazy timeline,” Walton continued. “We can go meet with the necessary individuals and do presentations; we don’t need to get on a plane.”