“Fundamentally, hospitality is about people.” Simple, direct, immediate, in terms of thinking and creative action, exempt from surplus and redundancy, but steeped in subtle, penetrating taste to bring the senses alive, leaving an indelible mark. Whether it’s hospitality on dry land or on the sea, Adam Tihany’s approach answers all the questions: how best to take care of guests, make them feel welcome and deliver experiences that exceed expectations. “I create bespoke living environments that are designed to cater to and inspire every person who enters. I avoid anonymity at all costs. We go to great lengths to develop spaces that promote and facilitate relationships rather than just solicit reactions.” Hotels that translate the exclusive status of properties with energy, spontaneity and maniacal attention to detail. Restaurants that become a natural extension of the culinary tenets of their chefs.
The nautical sector has also been enticed by Tihany’s original vocabulary, which grants new meaning to seagoing hospitality: from the collaborations with the American Holland America Line and Seabourn Cruise Line, to the role of Creative Director with the British Cunard Line and the Italian Costa Crociere, contaminations and expressive experiments come to life in the cabins and on the decks of floating cities. One perfect example is the Costa Smeralda, the latest addition to the Costa fleet, which Tihany has interpreted in its interior design – together with four international studios – as the creative enhancement of Italian style, in its history and its finest expressions.
Mr. Tihany, you have become a leading name in the cruise industry (I’m thinking about Costa, Holland America Line, Seabourn): what do you like most of this sector?
Cruise ships present a different challenge than hotels on land. Guests on board are a captive audience, sailing for days or weeks at a time. As such, the need of creating venues that are new and exciting as well as familiar and comforting is much greater at sea. Venues have to work harmoniously with a storyline but allows for an element of surprise and delight. Each space on board becomes an invitation to discovery. Guest’s own connections to the narrative, make the experience on the ship personal and enduring.
Is creating a project for a cruise ship comparable to a hotel’s one but on a lager scale? What are the biggest challenges here?
The greatest challenge – even more daunting than the simple fact that the ship moves constantly – is delivering an experience that is familiar and surprising at the same time. The design also has to have a lasting appeal to many different kinds of travelers. Ultimately, you want the design to elevate the experience and to raise the bar, and given the competition among the cruise lines, it is an exciting and tall order.
And what about the interior suppliers? Aesthetic, cost, performances: is it possible to balance these values for a high quality result?
Absolutely. Italy’s Finest, the concept behind the Costa Smeralda, allowed me the opportunity to invite the leading Italian furniture, lighting and accessory manufacturers and suppliers to help brand the ship with us. The opportunity to join the re-birth of the storied Italian Costa brand was very appealing to all of them and together, we embarked on a journey that ultimately resulted in a triumph to Italy’s finest.
And talking about your collaboration with Costa: how did it start? What do you appreciate most of the company?
During a meeting in London, following my presentation of the design of Seabourn Encore, I was introduced by the Chairman of Carnival to the president of Costa Crociere who asked me to take a look at the future plans of the new Costa vessel and see if I can design it. At the time, my studio was quite busy, and not wanting to turn down this amazing opportunity, I offered to become the creative director of Costa which meant that I will establish the concept, hire the team to bring it to life and direct their work during the execution. I was fortunate to get hired. The Costa team was smart, hardworking and very supportive. Throughout the project, the feeling was of enthusiasm and comradery; a likeminded group that was proud to be Italian and wants to make Italy proud.
The concept you created for Costa Smeralda is “Italy’s finest”: could you explain us this theme? And how did you realize it through the interior design project?
Since its inception, Costa has come to represent the best in Italian travel, and thus a piece of Italian identity shared with the world. It is an intrinsically Italian brand, but only about half of its clientele actually come from Italy. This dynamic fueled my initiative to consider the idea of Italy through two perspectives: The Italy the world dreams of: the dazzling landscapes, unforgettable food, incredible art, history and design-and the authentic Italia as the Italians live it: the passion of the people; the energy of the streets… Italy and Italia are two worlds I know well.
I am not Italian (really), but life for me began again in Milan, where I dove head first into architecture and design with no knowledge of the field or how it would ignite a lifelong passion. Italia and the Italian people played an intimate part in shaping my philosophy on design-and life, for that matter. Italy-the idea and inspiration-is a constant influence and remains very close to my heart. Together Italy and Italia create Bel Paese sul Mare, and their synergy and interaction is the basis of our story.
You involved four international interior design firm: did they give a different interpretation of the ‘Italian culture’? How did they collaborate each other?
When it came to electing the designers to carry out this vision, I set out to designate a diverse, international team of talented creatives whose individual strengths and histories could bridge together these perspectives through the spaces onboard Costa Smeralda. I strongly believed that in addition to representing the real Italia, equally important was to have representation of how the world sees Italy. It was necessary to give equal stage to the reality and the perception, hence the choice of an international group of designers. Our creative team consists of two American firms- Rockwell and Jeffrey Beers-who excel in entertainment and dining venues, German cruise design experts Partner Ship Design and Milan-based Dodorni, who headed the hotel portion of the ship.
CoDe – Costa Design Museum
You signed also the new Co.De, the first museum hosted in a cruise ship. Why a museum? What kind of experience does it offer?
Just as every major international city has proud displays of cultural heritage, Co.De was created to serve as the metropolitan epicenter of Costa Smeralda; the concentrated summary of the ship’s theme. I wanted to crown Italy’s Finest with a direct celebration of modern Italian design, from fashion and film to transportation and household objects. Expertly curated by known Italian scholar Matteo Vercelloni, the museum is interactive and engaging, inviting guests to step into Bel Paese through the most iconic design of Italy. As the very first design museum onboard a cruise ship, Co.De was a welcomed addition to Italy’s Finest at sea.
Could you anticipate us you next projects?
Right now, at sea, we are working with Seabourn Cruises on the design of the brand’s first ultra-luxury ice class expedition ships that will join the fleet in 2021 and 2022. This comes on the heels of Seabourn Encore and Ovation, the latter which launched last summer. Tihany Product Design is also creating a custom furniture collection to be featured on the new ships. I am also currently serving as Creative Director to the British cruise line Cunard. Our work with Holland America will culminate with the third and final Pinnacle Class ship MS Ryndam launching next year, following the success of MS Koningsdam and MS Nieuw Statendam.
CoDe – Costa Design Museum