Adam D Tihany and Seabourn Encore: Still making waves

The pioneering restaurant designer has a new project - high glamour on the high seas

I was born in Transylvania, grew up in Israel and, following three years of military service, wanted to study abroad. I found out that Italy was welcoming students from Israel, but there were only two courses for me to choose from: veterinary medicine in Bologna or architecture in Milan.

My knowledge of architecture could've been summed up this way: I didn't want to do veterinary studies. So I packed my belongings and went to Milan, where I learned about architecture the old-fashioned way - through apprenticing.

My education and professional experience was very broad and I ended up in some fascinating offices because the 1960s was a turbulent era and there wasn't much work in architecture at the time. However, this was the golden period of Italian design and lots of architects were turning their attentions to interior design, exhibit design, furniture design, lighting and product design. Indeed, the first thing I ever designed was an ashtray.

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I moved to New York in 1974 and opened my own practice there in 1978. My first major project was in 1981, designing the interior of La Coupole, the first grand cafe in NYC. This got a lot of press because that winter, there was a huge snowstorm and the restaurant was so full even Andy Warhol couldn't get in.

(Image credit: ERIC LAIGNEL)

Rather than say I could design everything, I decided to specialise in restaurants and from there I progressed to hotels and now cruise ships, which are still hotels, except they move. This is the first opportunity I've had to design an entire ship, but we operate in the field of luxury interiors and hospitality – our clients include Mandarin Oriental and Four Seasons – so Seabourn Encore fell right into that category as it's the most luxurious ship in the world.

The three existing Seabourn ships are distinctly Scandinavian in style. Encore is slightly bigger, with an additional deck, and the style is very Italian and very sexy. It has a sensual, soothing feel and it's elegant and glamorous but not ostentatious. While Encore is expansive, with 300 suites and 12 decks, it's designed to feel cosy wherever you are, as if you're on a private yacht.

Our approach to design is generally very site-specific and inherently local. That's more difficult on a cruise ship as there's no place from which to take inspiration. Instead, you're surrounded by a body of water and this vast sky, which evokes feelings of freedom, adventure and surprise.

Seabourn Encore embarks on its first journey – from Dubai to Singapore via Abu Dhabi, Oman, India and Malaysia – on 20th December;

ADAM D TIHANY is one of the world's most preeminent luxury-hospitality designers. Having graduated from the Politecnico di Milano, he established his own multidisciplinary studio in New York, where he still lives;

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