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Meet the finalists of the Artistry & Craft Awards  2024

7 December 2023 • Written by Lucy Dunn and Hannah Rankine

BOAT International is proud to reveal the finalists of the inaugural Artistry & Craft Awards 2024, which celebrate the behind-the-scenes artisans who spend countless hours creating the finer details on board.

The two awards - Excellence in Craftsmanship and Emerging Artisan of The Year - showcase the unsung heroes of yacht design. The judges were looking for exceptional objects or finishes that take these vessels to another level of luxury, whether using time-honoured skills such as marquetry and leatherwork, or new techniques that push the boundaries of sustainability, technology and materials.

This year the esteemed judging panel included art dealer and curator Adrian Sassoon; Deborah Pocock LVO, CEO of Qest (Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust); Andrew Winch of Winch Design; Lay Koon Tan, co-founder of Nature Squared and chairman Christopher Whale, creative director of BOAT International. Winch recused himself from the judging process when it came to judging entries where Winch Design was the commissioning designer.

All the judges agreed that, even in an inaugural year, the entries were not only of the highest quality but also showcased a diverse range of objects and finishes - ranging from standalone pieces to integrated features. Winch said: “I know that, from the whole industry, we achieve enormously high standards but it is exciting to see the talent we have reviewed today.” Tan was particularly taken with entries for the Emerging Artisan of the Year: “I found this category the most exciting because that’s where the next generation of talent is going to come from.”

Our experts were not only looking for outstanding skill and mastery but also something completely inspiring. As Winch surmised: “We were looking for what we hadn’t seen before - for a unique piece that just jumps off the page and makes us excited.”

The winners of the Artistry & Craft Awards were announced at the Superyacht Design Festival in Kitzbühel on 28-30 January 2024.

After receiving and assessing the entries, the Artistry & Craft Awards judges shortlisted the top seven designs…

Emerging Artisan of the Year

This award brings to light an artisan whose object has recently appeared, or will soon appear, on board a yacht for the first time, and who shows outstanding talent and promise.

Joshua Williams

Object: Bespoke cabinetry
Yacht: H3
Designer: Silverlining Furniture

27-year-old Joshua Williams began his career as a clay sculptor for Jaguar, working on concept cars for almost five years before he recalls “making one of the biggest decisions of my life - to become a cabinetmaker". After turning his garage into a workshop, he trained as a cabinet maker with bespoke furniture maker and designer Silverlining Furniture. His award entry is centred around his work on three pieces of furniture: a display cabinet, dining table and TV cabinet - which are now displayed on the 105-metre yacht H3. While each piece was a collaboration of various ‘talented colleagues’, Williams was involved in some of the most vital components: in the table’s flawless rippled sycamore veneer, in the display cabinet’s drawer fitting and brass collars in the base, and in the fitting of metal components to the TV cabinet.

Yasemen Hussein

Object: Dining table
Yacht: Pink Shadow
Designer: Design Unlimited

Yasemen Hussein is a sculptor known for her eclectic use of materials. She was approached by designers Design Unlimited to create a 3.6-metre long dining table for the yacht Pink Shadow. “I have to admit, it was the first for me,” she said. “I had never made anything for a yacht before, or a concrete table at this scale!” The decor theme was “exploration and adventure” and the designers wanted a concrete table edged in wood with vintage botanical illustrations. The tactile and intricate surface pattern was created with textured paper that was hand drawn and cut and the concrete was cast in three-panel moulds.

Credit: Damien Russell

Grace Ayson

Object: Stained-glass panels
Yacht: Renaissance
Designer: Bannenberg & Rowell Design

British-Filipino artist and stained glass maker Grace Ayson was commissioned by Bannenberg & Rowell to craft four large wall-mounted stained-glass panels based on the four seasons of the year. In her final designs, ‘Summer’ shows the season in full bloom with bright, vivid colours. ‘Autumn’ shows the seasonal change to rich ambers, russets and reds. ‘Winter’ is bold, with icy blue and white and angular lines, and ‘Spring' is represented with lush greens and blues. Ayson selected handmade mouth-blown glass sheets from Lamberts Glass in Germany that had subtle variations to give the work life and vibrancy when lit from behind. This was further emphasised by the use of acid etching to create further richness and depth. Each hand-painted panel was assembled with soldered lead in the traditional way.

Excellence in Craftsmanship

This award recognises an object whose construction is, in the judges’ view, second to none. Whether it uses time-honoured skills such as marquetry and leatherwork, or new techniques that push the boundaries of sustainability, technology and materials, the object must be bespoke work created specifically for a new yacht.

Paul Jewby

Object: Door carvings
Yacht: Amoa

Suffolk-based wood carver and sculptor Paul Jewby has been perfecting his traditional wood carving skills since the age of 19. He was commissioned to create 22 door panels featuring 13 different designs in oak. Modern oak, according to Jewby, is “extremely hard to carve”. Each panel was only 8 millimetres long and 17 millimetres thick, which further complicated the task. While the initial designs, based on natural elements such as water, sand and air, were set out by Winch Design, Jewby was able to add his creative touches throughout the process using a majority of traditional Victorian tools. The size of some of the panels also made the work challenging, as Jewby confesses, “my back certainly felt it!”

John Lee

Object: Guest cabin desks
Yacht: Amoa

One-man band John Lee is a third-generation Irish furniture maker following the footsteps of his father and grandfather. His work often features contrasting smooth and textured surfaces and he uses an innovative reconstruction process to bend the grain to follow the form of the piece. Lee was commissioned to create a series of desks for the guest suites on board Amoa “referencing water’s movement and texture”, which he calls his 'Wave series'. Made from European oak, the front of the drawers features a flowing, hand-shaped ‘scooped’ section, while the direction of the grain on the top of the desk cleverly mirrors the drawer fronts’ curves - a process which, Lee admits, was “complex and time-consuming". The desk is a mixture of smooth and lightly textured surfaces.

Aiveen Daly

Object: Dining chair backs
Yacht: Amoa

One of the UK’s leading textile artists, Aiveen Daly works chiefly in silk and leather. The inspiration for these exquisite leather dining chairs was taken from bas-relief sculpture and paper artistry and both Winch Design and Daly wanted to create something “totally unique, elevated and never-seen-before". For this reason, the technique took three months and many different prototypes before the final design was settled. Stiffened leather was fitted to the chair and then a wave pattern was cut with a fine surgical scalpel. Each of the cuts was inserted with a small piece of suede. The result was a truly one-of-a-kind set and took almost a year to complete.

Cristina Vezzini and Stan Chen

Object: Feature staircase light installation
Yacht: Amoa

A couple in both their professional and personal lives, glass blower Stan Chen and ceramicist Cristina Vezzini form Vezzini and Chen, a studio specialising in bespoke sculptural hand-crafted lighting and glassware. The brief from Winch Design - their first yacht project - was to create a statement sculptural lighting wall installation inspired by the ocean. “This was an exciting and perfect brief for us, being divers,” they recall. “We were particularly inspired by the water, waves and refraction of natural light on the water as well as the seabed, and how the sand is moved by the water, creating magical ‘sand waves'." The installation consisted of 17 hand-blown and carved glass discs to represent ‘water’, as well as 60 hand-carved porcelain pieces to represent ‘sand’. Seven lights were then created using backlit engraved glass and white hand-carved porcelain disc duos, which were positioned at different heights on the wall to illuminate the staircase.

For more information about the BOAT Artistry & Craft Awards, contact the events team.

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