If the details always make the difference, how does one dress up a new cruise ship, namely the Costa Smeralda of Costa Crociere? If we extract a spatial ‘fragment’ from the group’s new flagship, namely CoDe (Costa Design Collection Museum), the first floating museum on Italian excellence – from furniture to objects, fashion to cinema – we can immediately understand the perspective, on this ship driven by liquefied natural gas (the cleanest fossil fuel in the world). CoDe is the quintessence of the theme developed by Adam D.Tihany, creative director for the interiors and orchestrator of the entire operation: the story of a voyage during a voyage, “with Italy’s Finest, coveted around the world, based on the authentic lifestyle of the Italians.”
In Tihany’s words, an innovative way of looking at the cruise format and Italian hospitality in the world. Not by chance, the CoDe is also the only space on the ship designed by Adam Tihany with his studio, imagined as an immersive environment with a Kubrick-like atmosphere: an entrance tunnel, a sequence of large shiny disks in stainless steel, red carpeting with designs of objects, in a dynamic, permeable itinerary through cylindrical display islands in transparent glass.
The exhibit design and curating expertise have been supplied by the architect Matteo Vercelloni. “The idea was to represent the evolution of our country’s tastes, bringing out the manufacturing excellence and creativity of design Made in Italy, from the 1930s to the present, in a context of polyphony and positive contamination,” says Vercelloni, who together with Paola Gallo has selected 470 pieces, 90% of which are still in production in the furniture industry, to understand how Italian design has achieved its great vitality, beyond passing fashions.
The furnishings and complements have been donated by companies, but also purchased on the market. Those no longer in production have been found in the trade of modern vintage. They have been gathered in a space of about 400 square meters on Deck 7, a strategic location because it is always very busy, as it connects the large Colosseo theater, the casino and the restaurant zone. “Aware of the fact that we could not construct a total history, we have thought about many professional and human histories, organized in chapters, strategically assembled in precise narrative sequences, emphasized by the graphic design of Cristina Menotti,” the architect continues.
Hence the showcase of iconic furnishings and complements of Italian design, that of objects for the table and the kitchen, the handcrafted glass of Murano, objects of affection and memorabilia (also of anonymous design), alongside ‘theaters’ on the masters, the brothers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni and Ettore Sottsass (“I like to point out that the back of his Carlton bookcase was made with the Bacteria laminate reproduced by Abet Laminati and now in production,” Vercelloni says). Then come sections on design on two wheels, the diorama of Italian transport, objects for travel, a virtual bookshelf (set up with blocks of books designed as a series of possible publications on the CoDe Museum), fashion (curated by Augusta Grecchi) and cinema (curated by Roberto Dassoni).
But a ship is not only a museum, and through CoDe is the first demonstration that entertainment of a cultural type can become an integral part of the cruise experience, Costa Smeralda is a medium for “an engaging and memorable experience for its guests” in ever accessible space. Therefore, in tune with the guiding theme of Italy’s Finest, for the overall design of the ship Tihany has orchestrated interpretations of a pool of international designers – Dordoni Architetti, Rockwell Group, Jeffrey Beers International and Partner Ship Design – who have created the collective and private spaces, with the fundamental contribution of 15 Italian companies – Alessi, Cappellini, Cassina, Dedar, Driade, Emu, Flos, FontanaArte, Kartell, Molteni&C, Moroso, Paola Lenti, Poltrona Frau, Roda, Rubelli – involved in the production of the furnishings, many of which are custom pieces, in a fertile combination of craftsmanship and industrial prowess.
The Grand Tour was the theme chosen by the Italian firm Dordoni Architetti to outfit the 2600 cabins and suites located on 11 decks. Each deck is on the theme of one Italian city, with decorative patterns that are then extended to the private spaces of the rooms, translating the idea of bringing “an Italian city into a cabin.” The paving created by Michelangelo Buonarroti for Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome, on the other hand, is the source of inspiration for the Colosseo, designed by Rockwell Group at the center of the ship, a theatrical arena on three levels for performances.
Symbols of Italian palaces and piazzas with Dolce Vita overtones also bring life to the many entertainment zones designed by the American studio of Jeffrey Beers, including restaurants and bars, the casino and the jazz club, in a tribute to the tradition – also vernacular – of Italian craftsmanship, especially in the sophisticated choices of materials and colors. Influences that the German firm Partner Ship Design has interpreted in other forms and other shared spaces of the ship, with details and figures that range from classical style to pop images and motifs. To each his own kind of beauty.
Creative Director Adam D.Tihany - Projects by Tihany Design, Dordoni Architetti, Rockwell Group, Jeffrey Beers International, Partner Ship Design, Studio Architettura Matteo Vercelloni
Photos courtesy Andrea Martiradonna (CoDe) and Costa Crociere