The buzz is still in the air as the CSI+ Community wraps up our second edition of the CSI+ Future Leaders series. We couldn’t have asked for a more enlightening event, all thanks to our honorary guest, Aida Lora, who generously shared her expertise and valuable time with us.
We also want to thank our fantastic CSI+ Members who always show up with enthusiasm and thought-provoking questions, making this event a memorable one for everyone involved.
Here’s the full rundown:
Aida Lora is considered to be one of the next generation of design leaders, making a positive impact in the cruise design industry and gaining recognition as a rising star in the CSI community. With her cosmopolitan background and exceptional ability to connect with people, she epitomizes CSI’s motto of providing ‘a space to connect’. Aida shared her networking approach with the CSI+ Community, emphasizing the importance of connections and the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
As a highly accomplished Sr. Design Associate for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Tui Cruises, Aida’s 11-year experience in architectural and interior design, spanning projects across Asia and the Caribbean, offers valuable insights into her key responsibilities, which involve managing cabin interior projects, reviewing mockups, and collaborating with various teams.
As a designer, Aida’s role comes into action in two distinct project phases: the design phase and the outfitting phase. During the design phase, she acts as a liaison, working closely with the brand, consultants, and shipyards to ensure satisfaction among all stakeholders. In the outfitting stage, her role shifts slightly as she approves mockups and oversees the quality of the design implementation, ensuring the brand’s happiness with the end result.
Aida discussed the uniqueness of each project and stated that trying to analyze a standard supply chain or project approach is not sustainable for her type of business. She clarifies this through her role in the project, where she acts as a recommender rather than the final decision-maker. Aida’s judgment is crucial, and she looks to connect with various individuals in her network for insights, perspectives and products.
Partnerships and collaboration
As Aida’s judgement on products and materials is a huge part of her job, she values partners and stakeholders who are willing to help solve problems and can provide all necessary information such as IMO certifications and technical data. Given the rapid decision-making involved, Aida seeks straightforward and prepared suppliers who can offer alternative solutions. This allows a seamless transaction and a good relationship with the supplier for future projects.
Aida’s long-term vision for the cruise interiors industry revolves around prioritizing sustainability, with a focus on using eco-friendly materials and solutions to reduce the environmental impact of cruise ships in the next 5-10 years. Aida works on this vision by prioritizing sustainability over budget whenever possible and values forward-thinking suppliers who have plans for the product’s afterlife, supporting the circular economy principles.
Building on the idea of principles, Aida goes on to discuss how she aligns cruise interior design with brand identity. She looks to understand the brand’s values, the demographics of people the project targets, and the end vision when designing. She mentions that each brand will likely have different requirements, and Aida collaborates closely with brand representatives to follow their vision and design guidelines. This directly correlates with the procurement process during a project and how it varies, sometimes involving direct purchase or cooperation with shipyard suppliers and owners.
Aida shares that a great way to be a more permanent fixture in the material library is to utilise the prototype procedure for RRCL. This can be expensive, but providing materials or products for a ship for six months could lead to business opportunities for the next six years if the product has lasted and is still serving its purpose.
In terms of sourcing products, Aida is currently seeking flooring, laminate, textiles, and wall coverings. But she noted again that she places great importance on circular design and sustainability beyond the life cycle of materials. She collaborates with suppliers to ensure responsible handling and recycling of materials after their use.
Building on this, Aida was asked how would she handle the circular design way of getting rid of products that have ended their life cycle. In an ideal world, Aida says, she would look for a collaboration between the cruise line and a supplier. She would expect to hand back responsibility to the supplier who should ideally have a reduce or reuse or recycle program in place. Aida already prioritises this for large quantity orders, usually in the category of floor coverings, wall coverings, or laminates.
She goes on to explain that it isn’t just her or ship owners looking to be more sustainable, but even the guests on the ships she is designing: everyone is interested in the end story for the things they are using in the space.
While sustainability is at the forefront of her mind, Aida also aims to strike a balance between design and functionality by considering ergonomics and the preferences of the demographic using the space. She used the example of analysing the difference in heights between guests and using those demographics to help in her projects: Germans are often taller than Americans, so altering a project to maximise comfort for that demographic is important for overall comfort.
Thanks to CSI+’s Claudia’s great question, Aida had a great tip for suppliers on getting a product in front of buyers, which is to understand how designers can visualise materials and products in place but shipyards and owners sometimes cannot, for this reason, Aida would find it helpful to provide images of materials and products in a cruise ship setting to facilitate understanding and visualization of the design concepts.
The CSI+ Future Leaders series with Aida Lora was an extraordinary event that left a lasting impact on the entire CSI+ Community. Through this insightful Q&A, Members gained a deeper understanding of the designer’s world, inspiring a renewed commitment to sustainability and innovation. Thank you again to Aida Lora for her invaluable contributions and to our close-knit CSI+ Community, whose passion for cruise interior design continues to drive us forward.