The British fashion creator on why LGBTQ travellers should choose a cruise as their next holiday.
With over 40 years in the business, an MBE for her services to the interior design industry, and a host of celebrity clients including the Beckhams and Sir Elton John, Kelly Hoppen is one of the most sought after designers in the world.
When the prospect of designing for Celebrity Cruises came up, Kelly says she was initially “a bit apprehensive” of trading homes and hotel rooms for a cruise ship, but It’s an opportunity she tackled head on as she applied her celebrated timeless-yetstylish design philosophy to the future of luxury sea travel.
As the brand’s new Celebrity Edge ship launches this year, we spoke to Kelly about her design inspirations, the new generation of cruise ships attracting younger travellers, and her best tips for spicing up your own home.
What made you want to design for a cruise ship?
When they asked me, originally I was a bit apprehensive because I wasn’t sure quite how my style and what I do could be translated onto a cruise ship, because I’d never seen it done before. But working for Celebrity Cruises, they were just completely open to taking anything on board in order to do something that was a real game changer in the industry.
Where did you get your inspiration from?
Whatever I do and wherever I go I’m constantly getting inspired, but in this case I took the brief and I tried to understand what it would be like to be in one place on water going around the world. I do a lot of hotels abroad like in Mauritius and things, so it’s no different, it was just creating another design that was unique to Celebrity Cruises, really.
What is it about Celebrity Cruises in particular that draws you in?
Well I think they’re just very forward-thinking, they’re like no one else in the industry, and since we’ve been working with them we’ve been approached by so many of the other cruise liners because they’ve seen that what we’ve done is so different. But I like the way they think and I like the way they listen to new ideas and how they’ve given us such an amazing free reign to design something that is very challenging and very different. There’s also what we’ve got for the future that hasn’t even been announced yet – we’re always going to be pushing the boundaries.
How do you make sure that the spaces you’re designing are places travellers will be able to enjoy and relax in?
I can guarantee they’re going to enjoy them! It’s what I do and what I’ve done for all these years, I’m very good at creating spaces for people to live in, whether that’s a hotel room or a room on a cruise ship. I think because I designed residential mainly for the first 25 years of my business, I’ve had a real insight as to how people like to live, and then sort of really spinning that on its tail and thinking about how people want different experiences when they’re travelling. It’s about modern, timeless luxury. My spaces are very neutral so people can adapt in them with splashes of colour, but it’s all very sensory, it’s very tactile, there’s layers of textures. It’s everything that I’m known for.
With all the experience that you’ve had in the industry, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned about interior design?
The most important thing is that people feel comfortable and enjoy the experience when they’re in that space. I think that, in a way, an interior has to be a backdrop for whoever’s in it. If it really shouts out loud and it becomes the most important thing then I think you’ve failed.
Some people may view a cruise holiday as something for an older generation, but how do you ensure that these things appeal to a younger generation?
Well when we did the launch last March, and they flew over 400 journalists from around the world to see the virtual reality experience, no one could
believe it, and I think that Edge is going to pave the way to a younger generation of people who will think it’s as cool as it was to go on the QEII all those years ago. It only takes one cruise ship for the people that go on it to pass the information on to friends and family. It’s word-of-mouth, and all the articles we’ve had written, and the images that are online already, it’s a knock-on effect, and there are many competitors who are now following suit. One of the great things about being on a cruise ship is that time stops, whereas we’re so used to getting on a plane and arriving as quickly as possible. I think that there is that really nice feeling of taking time and experiencing the sky, the sea, the environment, and people’s concept of what a cruise is – or was – can now be different. And obviously, Celebrity Cruises will be able to accommodate all ages, so they will still have their existing cruise ships and what that offers to those people that want that, and now they’re offering something which is different, which is Edge. Also, a lot of my friends are starting to go on cruise liners now, and I don’t know if that’s just because I’m involved with it now, and I know what’s coming. It’s a bit like when you want to buy a certain car and then that’s all you see, so I don’t know if that’s just in my consciousness now but people I would never have thought would go on a cruise ship have done so.
Where is your favourite place to travel?
Oh god, anywhere in Asia, Italy, Capri, I’m about to go to Corsica where I’ve never been before, so I’m really excited for that. I mean, anywhere really. I just love travel!
Why do you think LGBTQ travellers should choose a cruise as their next holiday?
I know that Pride is very much something that Celebrity Cruises celebrates, we’ve been working on all this amazing lighting and all the colours for Pride, so that’s very much a part of our ideation for our cruise ships and what we’re doing. It’s something they’ve been doing for many years. But for me, it doesn’t matter who you are, it’s just whether you want to have a new experience that is less frenetic as the other ways of travel. We’ve got amazing experiences and we’re really thinking of every little detail. There’s wonderful food and the spa treatments are insane. I would say if anybody feels like having amazing surroundings beautifully designed by moi, and really having an incredible trip, go with some friends and experience it, because this is going to be a very new era of travel.
Are there any trends in interior design that you’re loving right now that our readers can emulate at home?
Well, everyone that knows me knows that I don’t follow trends, so these are my own ideas, but I would say that the home is more important now than it ever was. I think that more and more people of all demographics – especially young – are having to rent today because they can’t buy, they can’t afford to, and therefore doing things which are easy that make your environment beautiful, but which you can take away with you, are things such as rugs, hidden floor lighting, wallpaper that you can place up against a wall, floor-standing lights, new cushions, loose covers that you can put on furniture. Just creating environments that work for you. We’ve just launched a collaboration with Disney, and we’ve done all these great wallpapers and rugs, and it’s amazing how you can just do one wall of something and create something really exciting, and that can change the way your home looks or feels. But for me, more than following trends, it’s understanding how you want to live. My neutral interiors are always a really good base, because it means they last longer and you can add bits of colour with your accessories and cushions and whatever. So that’s my idea of a trend, to really understand yourself and not follow a trend, but follow something that works for you. And buy one little piece of vintage furniture!
To have a taste of a life at sea visit celebritycruises. co.uk, or find them on Twitter @CelebrityCruise.