May 19, 2018

Defying the Tide in Design: Virgin Voyages X Concrete Amsterdam

Amsterdam Concrete
The design team at Concrete Amsterdam

They talk about themselves as a firm that designs interiors ‘that work’. While this is true, the masterminds at Concrete Amsterdam go above and beyond perfection in function when it comes to their designs. They create strikingly beautiful spaces that evoke feeling, connection and emotion for all who experience them.

It’s about connection, to yourself and to others,” said Lisa Hassanzadeh of Concrete Amsterdam. “So that’s why we always concentrate on spaces where people connect.”

As a design firm, Concrete is always eager to create spaces that challenge norms and offer unexpected surprises. Some primary designs for the ship include the minimalist-leaning Test Kitchen, a chef-forward, experimental dining space. They also designed the edgy, 1930s New York City inspired, Athletic Club on the ship.

According to the team at Concrete Amsterdam, people tend to enter spaces like gyms or restaurants blindly, with basic expectations, without realizing they are doing it. “If you take down more barriers for people,” says Rob Wagemans of Concrete, "then they start doing what they really want to do.”

“...we always concentrate on spaces where people connect.”
Render of The Athletic Club designed by Concrete Amsterdam

This focus on human-centric design is nothing new to Concrete Amsterdam, which already boasts renowned eateries like Spice Market London and 212 Amsterdam. “While the restaurants and spaces they do are beautiful,” said Dee Cooper, SVP of Design for Virgin Voyages, “they also serve a purpose at every turn.”

Their approach to The Athletic Club reflects another innovative notion with its raised jogging track that seems to float above the ship, rendered in an eye-catching shade of Virgin signature red. A massively unexpected catamaran-inspired net for people watching is also featured here, for lounging above it all. It’s the perfect cross section of athletic meets relaxation meets socializing.

"We knew we're responsible for the gym space and the sports bar, and we thought 'This could be one…’," says Rob Wagemans of Concrete. “Can the gym happen at the bar and can the bar happen at the gym? And in this discussion The Athletic Club concept came about.”

When it comes to the creative process, the designers at Concrete Amsterdam love to follow intuition, simplify ideas and strip a concept down to its essence. “We're sure our sailors will appreciate their focus on function when it comes to design,” said Tom McAlpin, President and CEO of Virgin Voyages in speaking about these inventive designs. “We know our sailors will love the look, feel and the element of surprise they've created as well.” It seems approaching design for life on the sea was equally exciting for Concrete as it was for Virgin Voyages, and it shows in each detail.

“If you take down more barriers for people, then they start doing what they really want to do.”
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