Fast Ferry 2011

CASE STUDY: FJELLSTRAND & BRØDRENE AA DESIGN DEVELOPMENT

by Magne Ekerum Høiby | August 16, 2011

 

The new Fjellstrand range: designed from the inside out.

Fjellstrand contacted us in 2008 to help them design their next generation fast ferries. Their current models were almost unchanged since the 1980s and copied all over the world. Our mandate was to create a complete new design, starting from the inside with the experience on board. Fashion a modern and iconic exterior which would reflect a new style easily recognized as a Fjellstrand ferry, to carry the brand identity for the future. The design had to be scalable with a strong design-DNA to be applied successfully on a whole range of sizes and concepts without disrupting the main theme.

We decided to start the process with extensive research on the main users; the passengers. Who they were, how they travel and uncover their preferred style of travelling. This led us to a series of different scenarios which were illustrated and evaluated in order to be combined into different concepts on general arrangements. The chosen general arrangement was later used as an underlay for the exterior design. Passengers are far more different than we first thought. They travel in groups, pairs and alone. They come in all sizes, ages and some with disabilities. Some are on holiday and others on their way to work. All of them having different needs and expectations.

Diversity. This was the key to success in this project. We chose to make iconic zones answering the expectations to all the different users, not just a classic solution with seats lined up throughout the whole interior. But by solving all problems within different products, not as a multifunctional system that really does not fit anyone. The people travelling alone wanted to look out and not sit next to others, so we dedicated a series of single seats along the windows on both floors, to give them excellent view out all by themselves. The short travellers and commuters preferred not to sit down, which spawned the lean seat. Families and groups were given the centre of the ship where we designed a cafeteria style arrangement so they could sit face to face together in sofas and look at each other. A high ceiling in front gave a more comfortable and quiet atmosphere inside, and gave additional space for single-seats on the second floor on each side of the cockpit. The top aft deck became a sky-deck with large windows, even in the roof. Here travellers could enjoy the outside scenery even in bad weather.

We now had some references to start with for the exterior, a high nose for the high ceiling and big windows on the sides. The exterior had to be simple and clever to maintain a design-DNA to suit different sizes and styles of ships. We decided to build the DNA into simple scalable curves with added iconic window graphics. This proved to be easy to restructure in different sizes and variations without altering the appearance of the ship. After a series of different DNA-curves, Fjellstrand were satisfied with the sleek accelerating hockey curve, tight in front and a lighter aft. This style enhances the direction of the craft and has a natural connection of the lines and allows many variations. The main shape now defined the design-DNA, and we added an active feature window graphic to give it character. We connected the two side windows into one shape to avoid splitting the main volume.  An angled window was added as a glass roof on the nose as well, both to enhance the inside experience as well as to break up the exterior volume. The cockpit is also defined in the DNA-curves to connect with the main body in the aft section, and became an integrated part of the ship like we know from modern automobiles.

The new Fjellstrand design has successfully been translated into seven different designs since the concept development, all with the same iconic main shape and sporting comparable graphics. The range spans from a 28 meter open top city bus to long and sleek 50 meter vessels with car deck. We even managed to create a two-face battery driven electrical ro-ro ferry within the DNA-curves.

 

Brødrene AA, new styling for modularity and the future.

Quick stop bus ferries are common sight along the Norwegian coast, now dominated by the agile sandwich carbon fibre fast ferries by Brødrene AA. Hareide Design was hired in 2005 to redesign the exterior look of their ferries. To simplify and clean up the design to achieve a consistent look throughout the different lengths and variations of ferries built on the modular hull mould originally a part of the design Hareide Design developed for the medical boar Rygerdoktoren in 2001.

The design work set off with expressive conceptual artwork to define proportion and style, in line with the developed aesthetics from Rygerdoktoren. This was essential to achieve the base theme for the new identity of the product. This artwork would become the icon-sketch representing the vision for further development. From soft aerodynamic shapes utilizing the extent of the material properties, to crisp reinterpreted versions of the current look as evolution; the span of directions was complete. On all concept sketches, it was important for the design to enhance the fact that this is a modern high speed craft. Brødrene AA were uncertain of the extent of revolutionary changes they wanted to pursue, and finally chose to continue on the evolutionary path. Keeping what was good, making it better and modernizing everything with a sober approach. We kept the main proportions and the general look, and began an extensive clean up job. The main body and the defining curves were tightened, cluttering elements and inconsistencies were removed, new cockpit and window styles were explored to find a the best suiting way to communicate speed and power. We developed a new range of different approaches within the chosen direction. Ways to connect the three volumes, main body, top floor and the cockpit was the biggest challenge, but also the shape and direction of the windows had a great impact on the general expression. To maintain consistency across the line-up of ship variations, we landed on the simpler solutions. Discarding character adding breakups and angles, the design became more and more sleek. This was good for the final product. A simplistic design with as little effects as possible is a good way to ensure a timeless design that stays modern throughout the long lifespan of this type of product.

The final design renders an elegant and yet agile product, emphasizing speed and power through simplicity and perfectly balanced volumes. The curved front section visually pulls the craft ahead enhanced by the forward volume of the cockpit and top floor, leaving the rear half flowing behind the speed shape, supported by the horizontal window line adding lightness and velocity. This now defines the consistency on all products from Brødrene AA and is what distinguish them in the crowd of fast ferry manufacturers.

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