When Frans Hansen launched Cruise Web, an online cruise retailer specializing in national and international cruise vacation planning and booking, 18 years ago, he initially set up his 70 employees in a fairly standard call center environment. Located in Calverton, Md., the location was what he describes as “a nicely designed space in a B- Class building. It was an open center with meeting rooms and typical square-shaped cubicles for our sales and service consultants.”
With an emphasis on both customer and employee satisfaction, and an eye on growth, Hansen recently decided to relocate his facility to a Class A space in a fully renovated building that had been gutted and rebuilt to LEED Gold standards.
Hansen brought in Virginia-based Davis, Carter, Scott (DCS) Design Ltd. to redesign the Cruise Web space and gave Lena Scott, principal-in-charge, and Jay Choi, lead designer, carte blanche to create a concept that best represented the company’s purpose, all while making the space conducive to employee morale and productivity.
Cruise Web’s business strategy “depends on finding and keeping the best employees,” says Hansen. With that in mind, Scott and Choi developed a bright, upbeat and energetic design that mimics the interior of a cruise ship, while maintaining a professional work environment.
And while the need for a heavily themed space might seem unnecessary for a business that conducts its sales via the phone and internet, the Cruise Web’s interior design scheme can be seen in brochures and online, and helps tie it in with other corporate branding, says Scott—all key to defining and differentiating the company.
DCS Design went to work on the new facility from top to bottom, drawing on architecture, materials and other aesthetic elements to recreate the cruise ship experience theme in the open floor plan. Within the new space, Cruise Web’s offices now have higher ceilings and surrounding windows, improving natural light coming into the work areas. The interior structures, including angled walls and color schemes, were designed to represent the cruise ship and oceanic patterns.
The exposed ceiling was painted a light blue to represent the sky, and floating, multi-level acoustic ceiling tiles were positioned at different heights to represent clouds and absorb sound. “The first concern we had with the design was noise, because Cruise Web is a call center,” says Choi. “Everyone works in an open space. The different layers of acoustic ceiling took care of that.”
The aquatic color scheme is reflected in the blues and greens of the furnishings, flooring and carpets, which is patterned to represent ocean and wave movement. Natural light through the windows and slatted walls creates reflection, as if on waves. The white tables and chairs in the café offset the vinyl hardwood flooring, and the white desks arranged throughout the call center add brightness to the collaborative environment, and keep with the interior style of a cruise ship. A small conference room is located off of the reception area and represents the ship’s bow, complete with angled windows made of blue-tinted glass.
“It was all about tweaking the design to give an irregular, hip feeling to the space,” says Choi. “My philosophy is when you can build walls, why not tweak it and use accenting colors so that it adds completely irregular power to the space. The whole space is built on a cruise theme, and it angles from the tip of the ship-front to represent the boat going through the water.”
DCS Design began work on the project in July 2011, and Cruise Web opened its new doors to staff in October. When it was time relocate the staff from their old location to the new one, Hansen hosted a tent party and cookout in the parking lot and gave his employees a walk-through of their new space. “Everyone’s jaw dropped,” he says.
Cruise Web’s new configuration can accommodate up to 110 employees, and thanks to Scott and Choi, Hansen says he now has a work environment that boosts morale, encourages retention and will attract the best talent. “I think they are so happy coming to work every day, which is really nice, and it’s important because our customers can feel that on the phone,” he says.
The Cruise Web
3901 Calverton Blvd.
Calverton, MD 20705
ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN
Davis, Carter, Scott Design Ltd.
1676 International Drive
McLean, VA 22102