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After more than 100 Viking ships, Rottet Studio stays engaged

PHOTO: ANNE KALOSH CRUISE_Rottet_Richard_Riveire.jpg
It's 'thrilling and interesting' to create architectural motifs that are used across an array of vessels in very different destinations, Richard Riveire said
Los Angeles-based Rottet Studio has been involved in designing more than 100 ships for Viking and Richard Riveire, founding principal, is proud of this deep engagement.

'Not every architect gets to work with developing a brand like this from scratch,' Riveire told Seatrade Cruise News during Viking Saturn's naming in New York this week. 'It's been an amazing adventure.'

Residential look

When Torstein Hagen hired Riveire, 'I'd never been on a cruise ship.' But that suited the Viking founder, who wanted a residential look.

'Compared to other cruise ships, [ours are] more a floating vacation home ... We are quiet and nice and residential,' Hagen said.

And he knew Rottet's work from the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Viking in more recent years has staged events including Viking Jupiter's 2020 naming and the launch of its expedition concept.

A Texan masters Scandinavian design

What did Riveire, a Texan, know about modern Scandinavian design? He had to study and master it.

The result is that everything — the materials, fabrics, furniture and artwork — is as authentically Scandinavian as can be. Viking ships are imbued with Viking history, Norse symbolism, nature and explorer motifs, and some personal touches related to the Hagen family such as Mamsen's, the Scandinavian deli named after Hagen's mother.

Riveire started designing Viking river vessels then continued with the ocean ships and, most recently, the newbuilds for the Nile under construction in Cairo.

2022 began for him on the newly introduced expedition ship Viking Octantis in Antarctica then he took the August shakedown cruise for Viking Osiris on the Nile, 'so from 16 degrees in Antarctica to 116 degrees in Egypt.'

Motifs used across an array of vessels

It's 'thrilling and interesting' to create architectural motifs that are used across an array of vessels in very different destinations, Riveire said. The design has to 'accommodate different environments while keeping it recognizable for Viking guests.'

Hagen wants it that way. This week he said: 'If you've seen one [Viking ship], you've seen them all. But the benefit is that you feel at home once you come here. I know exactly where things are and our staff knows where things are.'

This doesn't mean there's less for the designers to do.

Fast pace

The pace is fast, with an ocean ship a year, a 'steady stream of Longships' and one Nile vessel a year. Riveire noted the demand for Egypt is 'so strong, we wish we could build them faster.'

Viking's first ocean ship, 2015's Viking Star, will be coming up for its 10-year dry dock, so there's work associated with that, too.

And, due to new IMO stability regulations, Viking's 11th ocean ship, coming in 2024, will be a little longer and wider, enabling higher capacity — though still under 1,000 passengers. This gives the opportunity for some design changes.

'We're continuing and making it better,' Riveire said.