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What 50 years as a yacht design company looks like
Over five decades ago, three passionate Dutch engineers agreed to start working together on a handful of superyacht design projects as a brand-new freelance collective. As innocent as it seems, what became of this collaboration is now the fully-independent naval architecture and design company Diana Yacht Design, with over 71 superyacht projects flaunting its designs, including the classic 1984 56-metre Feadship yacht Rio Rita and the 77-metre explorer yacht Legend.
To keep up with the company’s extravagant growth, original managing director Coby Dijkman and founder Cees Kolff moved aside over 15 years ago to make way for three new partners – Hans-Maarten Bais, Jerry Lakeman and Bart de Haan – who together have led Diana Yacht Design through thick and thin. “Not only were we able to bring in some great achievements such as expanding our portfolio with yachts like Lady Duvera and Attessa IV, but navigate through the 2008 financial crisis. We survived by keeping our eyes open for new projects, working closely with shipyards, building solid business relationships and being down to earth people. That is also what our predecessor taught us: ‘You know bad times will always come, so take advantage of the good times,” explains creative director Hans-Maarten.
In addition to strong work ethics and disciplines, the firm’s success has been largely thanks to keeping a young, dynamic team of people. “We like to utilise our senior knowledge and experience to educate younger designers. That way we have been able to maintain our quality of work,” adds Hans-Maarten. With this knowledge, now 50 years old, Diana Yacht Design was one of the industry frontrunners for creating custom naval architecture on standout yachts such as Scout, YXT 24 Evolution, Viatoris and Kokoro.
Another standout creation by Diana Yacht Design is the 47-metre superyacht concept DIANA R.50, which Hans-Maarten describes as “a yacht that feels huge and is full of superyacht features – all while remaining under that crucial 500GT mark." The concept was also a testament to the way the firm likes to work so closely with its stakeholders. “The DIANA R.50 concept was born from discussions with a client and proves how our talented design team can be flexible to suit the people we are working with,” he adds.
That said, the firm is excelling with some big projects that are currently taking shape across nine different yards. These 15 projects range between 27 to 61 metres and include the new 61-metre Hakvoort build Project YN251 and the 36-metre Moonen Martinique superyachts – an achievement Hans-Maarten insists “could not have been done without the dedication of our talented team. Their passion for the work comes through in everything that they do, and while the company’s services and operations have expanded, our underlying principles have remained constant. We look forward to the next 50 years in this fantastic industry!”