In a previous post on the SS. France I mentioned the two British Liners, Oriana and Canberra. Although all three ships were born of the same era and respectively were the flagships of their respective companies, the two British Liners were vastly different from the France. The France was primarily constructed for the luxury North Atlantic trade, while the Oriana and Canberra were built for the immigrant trade down under. With this in mind the interior decoration of the British Liners differed vastly from that of the France. Similarly the France displayed the best the French could offer and was a ship of state, while the British Liners displayed the best of British design in the early sixties. First I will explore the Oriana.
The Oriana entered service in 1961 for the Orient line on the down under Australian service. While not as streamlined as her eventual running mate she was still an attractive ship. Her interiors were strikingly modern taking on an almost clinical effect with the large use of plastics, Formica, glass and natural woods mixed in for good measure. This must have come as a rude shock to the wealthy Australians returning to the mother country for an extended vacation, who were more used to the chintzy kitsch of other liners doing the same run. If the wealthy passengers were in for a shock then the majority of immigrants travelling in Tourist Class must have had a coronary attack! The interiors were probably unlike anything they had ever seen before.
The interiors were light and breezy full of light and space. Artistic decoration seemed to be added as an afterthought to these spaces as there is very little of it. The designers relied on the form and line of the furniture to create comfortable spaces that would become home for the 6 weeks of the voyage.
Even though stark and incredibly practical the interiors were a tour de force in modern design. Everything was stripped down to its bare minimum as can be seen in the picture of the ship’s Tourist Class Stern Gallery. The room has a soft industrial edge to it which makes a beautiful space that perfectly suits the passenger’s needs.
The designers were not afraid to use colour, and the colours that they used were bold and striking which suited the form of the furniture beautifully.
The ship was primarily an outdoor ship with large lidos and swimming pools to suit the warmer climates which she would be travelling in. Windows could be opened allowing fresh sea breezes in.
I would think that if you were a young child, exposed to the wonderful wooden forms in the children’s play room for 6 weeks, that you would automatically grow up to appreciate form and function.
I just love the top of this bar here. A rather stained glass effect in what could have been a strip of bland formica.
With the Oriana good design and practicality was not a right, but available to all, whether returning squatter or new immigrant. You too while travelling on assisted passage to a new life in Australia, had some savoir faire.
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