With over 250 objects including paintings, sculpture, ship models, fashion, photographs, posters and film, “Ocean Liners” take over Gallery 39 and North Court at the V&A Museum and focuses on the golden era of the transatlantic ship journeys between 1900 and 1950. The exhibition follows the design stories of the world’s greatest ocean liners, including the Titanic, Normandie, the Queen Mary and the Canberra, and explain how these impressive vessels helped shape the modern world, and become powerful symbols of progress and 20th-century modernity.
Casson Mann designed an atmospheric background for the show pieces. Their theatrical approach proposed to build stage-like rooms inspired by the interiors of the Queen Mary and Normandie ships, the engine room of a liner, or a 10m tall space in the North Court covered in “star cloth” which replicates the experience of being on the deck by night. Some of the special features built include a 10m by 10m “swimming pool” built in acrylic to display the life on board in the 1920s, a 9m tall silhouette of a liner, a 6m dome in fibre glass above the timber panelling of the SS France, or the powder coated steel frame that supports 3 glass panes from the SS United States.
There are audio-visuals features in every room, which in one instance involve 4 projectors coordinated to describe the “Grande Descente”, the main stair that lead to the 1st Class dining room of the classic liners. Another set of coordinated projectors cover a 11m wall with images of sailing liners from different times. Particular attention was required for the coordination of graphics, involving screen printing, large vinyl lettering, direct to media printing on mdf, captions on coloured core board, and custom made label holders in tulip wood.