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  • JOSHUA Schwartz

Nedgé Louis-Jacques, Managing Partner at Tomas Tillberg Design: The future in cruise ship design

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

Sustainability and emerging design trends play pivotal roles in shaping the future of cruise ship interiors. As the cruise industry undergoes a transformative shift towards environmental consciousness and enhanced passenger experiences, several key considerations come to the forefront

Nedgé Louis-Jacques is the moderator of the Business Case for Sustainability session in Cruise Conversations Live, at Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Americas. With 30 years of experience in cruise ship design, Nedgé’s career spans eight years as a Ship Design Manager at Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and 21 years as a Managing Partner and Senior Project Manager with Tomas Tillberg Design.


During her years at RCCL Nedgé was responsible for managing the operations budget for four ships, including all aspects of design and refurbishment including their implementation during drydock. For the last 21 years at Tomas Tillberg Design, where she’s still pursuing her passion for cruise ship design, Nedgé has worked on hundreds of projects covering all areas on a ship, working as a lead and managing ships for a number of the major cruise lines.


Speaking in Cruise Conversations Live at Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Americas in Miami, Nedgé will be exploring her interest in sustainable design by moderating the Business Case for Sustainability session. The session debates how the cruise design ecosystem can as a whole start to mandate sustainable practices and processes across suppliers, shipyards, cruise lines, outfitters and contractors. It also asks – how do you prioritize when there are so many aspects to consider within sustainability: health and wellness, environmental impacts, circularity, waste reduction and social equity? We recently spoke to Nedgé about her recent work, the key current trends in cruise interior design, and what she’s looking forward to at Cruise Ship Interiors Expo.


Thanks for speaking with us today Nedgé – can you tell us about your current role and what it entails on a day-to-day basis?

I am the Vice President of Design for Tomas Tillberg Design Design. I am in charge of many of the projects, and usually have an understanding of the project in general, running it from the design side, project management, organization, and coordination of different groups – the owner, the contractors, and whoever else would be part of that project. I’ve been with Tillberg for 21 years, and have been a partner for 10 or 11 years, so am also dealing a lot with clients and getting projects and so forth.


Could you tell us about a recent interesting project you’ve worked on?

For the last three years we’ve been working on an expedition fleet project for Sunstone Ships – a series of 10 ships being built in China, in coordination with a European contractor. Our office has been working very closely with the owner, helping with many aspects of the project to get it started. We are now almost finished with ship number six, getting started on number seven!


Before covid there was a number of very interesting projects we were looking into that have been put on hold, but a few of those are coming back now. We have NDA’s on these so cannot give too much info I’m afraid!


The expedition project for Sunstone kept us busy during the pandemic last year – we’ve been fortunate. It’s been quite an experience, because every ship, even though they are sister ships, has been designed differently because the operators that have leased the ship from the owner want different designs, want the interiors to look different.


What key opportunities are presented in cruise interior design right now? And what challenges are being faced by the cruise industry?

This year has been a challenge because we’ve had to change our ways. Our company is used to working remotely, as we have an office in Columbia, and architects there that do a lot of our production, so we are used to working with people remotely, but for us designers, when you have to select materials, it has been very challenging. Our office has been closed, bar our office manager picking up samples, but not being able to see all the vendors, and European manufacturers we need to work with – it’s been very difficult, we have to go back to our resources and order things online sometimes. For me that was quite challenging.


Also not being able to present in person to our clients made it quite difficult, we had to rely on virtual meetings and renderings. Renderings are great, but limited to the fact that you cannot touch and feel, and actually see the materials, so sometimes we had to mail samples out – but we took it as a challenge, we went through the process. But looking back, that was quite challenging and different.


What trends are you expecting to emerge when sailing is fully up and running?

So in relation to the [Cruise Conversations Live] session I am moderating, this is why I think the subject of sustainability is interesting – people are thinking about this more. I know this is not new, but the cruise industry was not too much into it – they’ve tried in terms of operating the ships, but less so in terms of design and the products they use. But I see more interest on that side, which is very encouraging.


We as designers now are thinking more about that, and since going back to the office and meeting with vendors, the subject always goes back to products that are green, recycling, and incorporating these things into products like fabrics, and carpets.


Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Americas is coming up very soon – what are you most excited for at CSI?

I attended the first CSI in Miami, which was really great – I was so happy to be there, seeing all these different vendors and companies from the US and Europe, and I think it had a lot of options and product variety. Everybody from the cruise industry, and my friends in hospitality, were very excited because we didn’t have a show like that in Miami. I’ve been used to going to Seatrade, and Seatrade when it came to the design section was very small and getting smaller and smaller each year. The thing that interested me, aside from that, was that I could see my colleagues, I could socialize, and meet people, and I think CSI is bringing that into a different level, the fact that you’re also offering a lot of products, some we haven’t seen, and you get to see everyone from the different cruise lines, the designers, the vendors, all under one roof, and that’s quite exciting.

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