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Designers on the superyacht refit process

With apologies to Bob Dylan, it is fair to say that a megayacht not busy being born is busy dying. The only constant is change itself, which means major refits have become as integral to the yachting experience as seltzer and submersibles.

And while owners and designers are willing to accept, even welcome, the exigencies of rebirth, the nature of the game has become faster paced and more complex.

To explain how this has occurred, consider the subtle changes taking place in the practice of yacht interior design overall. Where once there was a single owner to please, now there are many stakeholders whose needs must also be satisfied.

The one writing the cheques is obviously the first stakeholder, but the tastes and expectations of future charter guests also must be factored in to maintain the yacht’s value, as well as the amenities required by experienced crew members to retain the best crews.

There is yet another powerful stakeholder in the design process when it comes to refits, one with a big personality impossible to ignore: the roving spirit of the hull itself. One cannot simply hide such a monster under a paper doily. For that reason, the hull’s spirit as stakeholder can represent one too many for some of the world’s sought-after designers.

Terence Disdale, of Terence Disdale Design, is one of them. ‘We generally do not solicit or undertake refits,’ he says. ‘However, in the case of the vessel being one of our original designs, we loathe the idea of another designer carrying out the refit and, consequently, might embark on such a project.’

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