International architecture and design company, 5+ Design, collaborated with Celebrity Cruises and other design teams to create the second vessel in Celebrity’s Solstice line of cruise ships. Drawing from experience in upscale retail design like Louis Vuitton, Senior Designer Sharon Huang and Partner Tim Magill helped form Celebrity’s newest step up in on-sea resort cruises, the Celebrity Equinox.
“Celebrity is (Royal Caribbean’s) sort of Cadillac,” Tim Magill said of the luxurious line of new ships on the horizon. Stepping up their game, Celebrity Cruises has opened a gate of lavishly designed and furnished ships beginning with the Solstice which set sail last November, and now with its second endeavor, the Equinox. Following, 5+ will return to work with Celebrity for its third Solstice addition, the Eclipse.
“The environment is so totally immersive,” said Magill of the venues available on the recently launched Equinox, cruising since early September. Comprising the experience onboard, Equinox has a beautifully classic casino, expansive retail space and a versatile art gallery.
“Our intention,” said Magill, “was to make the casino more classic in design than others built.” Using “clean and understandable” design, Magill and his team borrowed the “gracious galleries” and “vaulted ceilings” known to older European game rooms allowing the casino onboard the Equinox to exude a familiar yet fresh Monte Carlo atmosphere.
Upping the retail experience was right in line with 5+’s skills, from Huang’s experience designing store fronts for such clients as Louis Vuitton. “The design that had to be done,” Magill explained, “is on a whole ‘nother level.” To produce the desired high quality retail experience needed to push the Equinox into its own field of play, 5+ accomplished what seems a first in at-sea retail. “We opened the retail up to the upper level of the ship,” said Magill. The two-level construction gives the Equinox’s 13 shop retail space and new form of visibility making it comfortable and easily navigated for the cruiser with a shopping forte.
Huang helped to make sure each of the 13 spaces was in itself an exciting visual delight. “Each store we approached in a different way,” Huang said. With colors and display methods shifting from store to store “(patrons) just don’t get bored.”
“The big idea,” Magill said, “is that it would be a central style that is open.” This centrally focused design includes the spanning retail space, a food and drink bar aptly name Tasting’s, and the inventive two-story overlook culminating to a sight “similar to great lofts in SOHO.”
5+ kept pushing the bounds of modern design with a dynamic art gallery. With sliding section glass for hanging works of art, the gallery onboard the Equinox radiates versatility. “They could reconfigure (the gallery) for an art auction or a fashion show,” Magill said. The importance here was on flexibility, lending the space to boundless events and uses.
“Celebrity was trying to differentiate itself from other brands. This series of ships has raised the bar,” Magill said. “For (Celebrity) it was sort of a quantum leap forward. I think we’re at the high end of customers, however, not so high end that it isn’t accessible to everyone,” attracting people universally with contemporary design and great service. “In the cruise ship industry, there is a lot of parody,” but not so with Celebrity. “These resorts offer a great deal of choice… activities and entertainment.
“They really are looking to take their brand to the next level,” Magill added, and he and the 5+ team have helped them to succeed in doing so.
For more information on the Celebrity Cruises, visit www.celebritycruises.com and for information about 5+ Design, visit www.5plusdesign.com.