We turn the spotlight to David McCarthy, Director of Marin Projects & Communications at award-winning multidisciplinary design firm, AD Associates. Get insight on what he's achieved in the interior design of the cruise industry, what's been his proudest moment, and where the industry is heading over the next few years. Enjoy!
Hi David, can you tell us about your current role and key responsibilities?
My position at AD Associates is director of marine projects & communications. It’s a multi-faceted one, but primarily is the business lead for outward client & partner communication. Alongside the design director and CEO, we are the initial trio who engage with clients and establish the direction of a project. Internal communication is an equally important role and as the studio has expanded rapidly over the last 18 months, I put my near 25 years’ experience of hospitality, cruise ship operations, newbuilds and refurbishments to use on a daily basis; which in all is very rewarding.
What inspired you to start working in the cruise industry in particular?
I completed a Hospitality Management degree and honestly hadn’t set my sights on a career in the cruise industry. All that changed however when I joined ss Canberra with P&O Cruises in December 1993. Any notion of trying it for one contract (6 months) de-solved as travel became the inspiration for the next 14 years, at which point I remained in the industry but as a “landlubber” supporting brands with refurbishments and newbuild vessel deliveries.
What project are you particularly proud of and why?
I am personally proud of my role in delivering the entire hotel operation for P&O Cruises last newbuild vessel, Britannia. Obviously, I didn’t do this alone, but through effective engagement and collaboration across so many departments, we delivered a ‘modern classic’. I guess it will also be hard to beat being presented to Her Majesty the Queen on the occasion of the ships naming… now that was a VERY proud moment!
“Go; Touch; Feel”
With your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to an up and coming designer?
“Go; Touch; Feel”. Now, that may sound very un-PC, but this was a great bit of advice I was given during my early sea-going career. “Go” and experience things, “Touch” the materials and “Feel” the ambiance with all of your senses. You won’t get closer to valuing the guest experience and for me, it signified customer-centric thinking which stays with me till today.
Are there any key opportunities or challenges your industry faces at present..?
A challenge, but one we often look upon as an opportunity to is attracting the right sort of talent. As for opportunities, I think there is an abundance, particularly in light of the global strength of the industry at this time and the committed order book for future vessels, but especially the niche luxury & expedition sectors which are growing at a significant rate and for which our business is renowned for delivery. It’s also obvious that as new tonnage enters the market, organizations are either repositioning vessels throughout their brands and/or carrying out extensive refurbishments to maintain ships in an increasingly competitive marketplace…
What have some of the key design trends been over the past 2 years? Do you see these changing in the next 12 months?
Offering a unique experience for the consumer remains one of the key trends in the industry, with an emphasis on variety and a consideration of ‘the individual’. With a shift in how people work, live and use spaces, there has been a natural progression towards the need for altering how we approach the design of public areas, thus creating more versatile and flexible spaces. For the cruise industry in particular, luxury has also become an individual experience and we have to be clever in how we weave a balance of intimacy and exclusivity through our designs.
This goes hand in hand with Wellness, which continues to play a huge part in the hospitality industry and I think this is a trend which we will see develop and expand in the years to come.
What do you hope to achieve at Cruise Ship Interiors Expo 2019?
Alongside my fellow Advisory Board Members, my wish is to encourage growth in shared ideas and solutions between designers, brands, and suppliers. I’m sure the sentiment will be the same, in seeing this inaugural event an overwhelming success and establishing itself as a firm addition to the annual exhibition/conference ‘circuit’, with the prospect of alternating between Europe and North America annually perhaps?