Richard Riveire, acclaimed interior designer. Credit: Viking TV.

Southern style: Richard Riveire reveals design inspiration for Viking Mississippi

Author: Vicky Mayer

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Acclaimed interior designer Richard Riveire spills the secrets to making new ship Viking Mississippi a true Southern belle.

What is good design and why does it matter?
Good design is a clear, simple, elegant solution to a problem. Design is a reflection of culture, society, and how people relate. Good design is also about authenticity.

How did the culture of the American South influence the design of Viking's new ship for the Mississippi?
This is an amazing river with an incredible history, and there were some great opportunities to bring this to life on the new Viking Mississippi.

I was born and raised in Texas so I had some local knowledge already, but research is huge in the design of Viking ships – it's how we create special details that guests enjoy so much.

-READ MORE: Tapping Rich History in Grand Liner Design!-

We have woven a little layer of Americana into the ship's design alongside the classic Viking Scandinavian style.

Few people area aware that the largest grouping of Norwegians outside Norway is in Minnesota, so there is a strong Scandinavian culture along the banks of the Mississippi already, which makes a very nice connection for the design elements.

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Scandi chic plus a touch of the American South is what makes Viking Mississippi so special. Credit: Viking.

Is Viking Mississippi a hybrid of the Viking ocean ships and Viking Longships?

Yes, guests who have sailed with Viking before will recognise many design elements from the ocean and river ships.

Could you tell us more about the new River Café on board?
Viking is well known for its alfresco dining, and guests have always been very fond of the Aquavit Terrace on both the Longships and the ocean ships.

On Viking Mississippi we have taken this a step further and created the River Café – a more casual dining environment that gives the ship a touch of Americana.

-READ MORE: Viking Announces New Mississippi River Cruises for 2022-

When designing this element, I was thinking about my memories of sitting out on my grandmother's front porch, enjoying the evenings with the fireflies going by and listening to the baseball game on the radio.

I wanted Viking guests to have a touch of this special and familiar American experience, so all the windows open completely to the very expansive deck at the back of the ship.

We even have swinging and rocking chairs here, which is something very characteristic of the American South.

The River Café is a more casual dining environment that gives the ship a touch of Americana. Credit: PR Newswire

Viking Mississippi has an Explorers Lounge, which is something regular Viking guests will recognise. But this one has a twist– can you explain more? Unlike the Explorers Lounge on the ocean ships, this one gives access to a very large deck area.

That makes the lounge more of an indoor-outdoor concept, because you can walk from inside to outside very easily and enjoy the alfresco seating, fire-pits, and telescopes.

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You've also introduced an open galley in the main restaurant. What is the thinking behind this?
We wanted to take the open nature of the River Café one step further. So the open galley will give guests the opportunity to talk to the chefs and watch them at work.

We want the design of this ship to allow guests to form easy relationships with the crew and strike up conversations. This will allow them to be deeply embedded in the Viking culture, which will make for a more interesting trip.

The stairwells on board are rather special. What can you tell us about those? To me as a designer, staircases are about more than just getting from one floor to another. I believe the space needs to be used to display something interesting and enriching, so the staircases on this ship show maps going the full length of the Mississippi from the top to the bottom, so you can trace your voyage as you climb the stairs.

-READ MORE: Viking Cruises conquers the world-

The Mississippi has a huge musical heritage. How have you integrated this with the design of the ship?
You're right – music is such a big part of the discovery of this river, so it was essential to incorporate it into the interiors of the new ship. The Living Room is all about music and the contribution the Mississippi has made to the world's musical life.

We have added a turntable with a selection of records that capture the heart of the Mississippi, and I'm hoping that guests will head here after dinner, choose something they want to listen to, and enjoy dancing and discussing the music with their fellow travellers.

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About Vicky Mayer

Vicky began her career working on young women’s magazines before moving on to TV and entertainment titles. Her passion, though, has always been travel, so as Editor of World of Cruising, she combines her love of magazines with the chance to shout about cruise holidays around the world.