Cunard has unveiled a new archive exhibition at the University of Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery & Museum in front of travel agents and media.
Travel in Style – Iconic Cunard Advertising in the 1920s and 1930s, is a specially curated display providing a unique glimpse of the luxury travel brand’s illustrious seafaring heritage.
The exhibition, which opens to the public tomorrow (March 25), is on display in Gallery 5 within the VG&M and features original marketing materials and other enduring documents from the past 100 years.
It chronicles the luxury travel brand’s rich history in design and style – with some of the timeless pieces inspiring design choices for the Princess Grill restaurant and Queens Grill Suites onboard Queen Anne, Cunard’s latest ship.
The wider Cunard archives are housed at the University of Liverpool library and contain most of the surviving business records produced by Cunard since it became a limited company in 1878. A unique resource for researching Cunard’s growth and development, many of the records date from the early part of the 1900s and occupy over 400 linear metres.
For more than 180 years, Cunard has constantly refined the definitive experience of ocean travel and Thursday’s exclusive exhibition preview gave agents an opportunity to immerse themselves in a legacy that Cunard is extremely proud of.
It’s a legacy the luxury travel brand is intent on preserving when Queen Anne enters its fleet in May 2024, with Cunard’s newest Queen expected to boast several contemporary spaces onboard that evoke memories of its star-studded history.
Designers from David Collins Studio were in attendance to reveal the design inspiration behind Queen Anne. Having been immersed in the Cunard archives, the design team, whose portfolios include luxury hotels, bars, restaurants, high end yachts, and private grand residences, have ensured that Queen Anne exudes classic Cunard style while showcasing many new considered touches.
Queen Anne’s breathtaking interiors take inspiration from Cunard’s past, celebrating the beautiful art deco style finishes that the brand is known for, to define a striking new design direction for the future.
Lee Powell, vice president of brand and product at Cunard, said: “Cunard is world-renowned for inventing the golden era of ocean travel and this exhibition beautifully showcases the timelessness of our brand. Luxury, sophistication, and glamour are rooted in our DNA and these core values are as important to today’s guests as they were to travellers 100 years ago. Whilst we cherish our heritage, we also use it as inspiration for forward-looking ideas when we plan for the future. Queen Anne is the next in a fine line for Cunard and she will be bursting with breath-taking moments around every corner; all of which contain subtle references to our history.”
Jason Stewart, associate director of David Collins Studio, added: “With such history and heritage to draw upon, the Cunard brand is rich with inspiration for us as designers. It was a unique opportunity to create spaces with design narratives that can only belong to Cunard – the spaces on board really wouldn’t work anywhere else! We began by delving into the incredible Cunard archives at the University of Liverpool and found many inspiring references that informed our designs. A great example is when we discovered the first trans-Atlantic crossing from Great Britain to Nova Scotia. The flora and fauna of Nova Scotia has informed the beautiful flowers that will feature across the walls in the Princess Grill Suite.
“The brief for the project was to create a ship for the future. I think we have achieved this with a design that is timeless and sophisticated, that won’t date and yet is adaptable for the future. Our designs feature carefully curated architectural details that reference Cunard’s heritage and the Golden Age of Liner Travel.”
James Addison, creative director at forpeople*, added: “We feel incredibly privileged to help shape the next chapter of Cunard’s iconic livery design. Alongside the Cunard team, we see ourselves as custodians of the brand – and it’s a responsibility we take very seriously. This is why we searched through the Cunard archives to ensure every detail was grounded in Cunard’s heritage yet refined and reinvented to feel timeless for future generations.”
Siân Wilks, archivist (Cunard) at the University of Liverpool Library, said: “The Cunard archive contains most of the surviving business records produced by Cunard since it became a limited company in 1878. As a unique resource, the archive provides rich insight into the Company’s history and the social history of thousands of people whose lives Cunard impacted, including members of its crew, office staff and passengers.
“The exhibition will give visitors to Liverpool the opportunity to view a selection of original Cunard travel posters that are not normally accessible due to their large size and preservation requirements. Printed advertisements and ephemera will also be on display, which will include examples of memorabilia that have been donated by members of the public, reflecting their personal experiences of travelling with Cunard.”
Queen Anne will set sail in May 2024.