Bernd Weel designed the exterior of the 32.65m Lady Fleur by X-Treme Yachts

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Bernd Weel designed the exterior of the 32.65m Lady Fleur

Q&A with Lady Fleur designer Bernd Weel

2 February 2023 • Written by Gabrielle Lazaridis

The 32.6-metre Lady Fleur by X-Treme Yachts was recently announced as a finalist in four categories at this year’s Design and Innovation Awards, including ‘Outstanding Exterior’ for motor yachts between 24 and 39.9 metres. In the latest installment of BOAT’s design Q&A series, we profile the yacht’s exterior designer, Bernd Weel, on his source of inspiration as well as his design predictions for the future of the superyacht industry.

What was your inspiration for Lady Fleur?

The client had a very clear idea on what features we would integrate into the design. One of the main ones was the hydraulic submersible platform to make tender loading easy and "dummy proof", so to say. It immediately created a challenge in how to incorporate it beautifully into the design, resulting in a forward-orientated design that gave her a unique look from the start. Forward-oriented means the main volumes are all moved far forward and therefore creating a huge beach deck on the aft. 

How is Lady Fleur unique from others in her category?

I think Lady Fleur has the most extensive beach platform in its category. It can load a 10-meter RIB tender and has a proper Jet ski and water sports garage. Moreover, the submersible platform can transform into a big saltwater pool for the kids. The area can also be transformed into a lounge deck using loose furniture or a party deck with a canvas canopy over it. We think it is one of the most versatile designs on the market.

Are you noticing any trends among this year's finalists?

I have seen many contemporary designs. Perhaps a new generation of owners is arriving? Also looking at the interior designs that are nominated, a lot of them have a minimalistic though ‘warm’ style with a lot of wood. I think we will see a lot more designs inspired by nature.

You said at METS recently that new designs should focus more on architectural ideas than aerodynamics. Could you expand on this?

I think the era of fast and powerful yachts is transforming into an era of yachts that are more focused on efficiency, functionality, practicality, and making optimal use of the available space. That results in more relatively large-volume yachts that use a lot of glass and open or connecting spaces. That is where we as designers can learn a lot from architecture, how to connect spaces and make them interact with the outside (nature). 

You also said your ideal yacht was smaller with less crew, why does this interest you from a design standpoint?

I always try to seek a certain balance and efficiency in our designs. Carving everything out that is not necessary, you want to keep it pure. I believe there is a certain sweet spot in having the right balance between having enough features and a feeling of privacy, whilst keeping closely connected to the water. Of course, every client has their own personal wishes and requirements whereby we look for the right balance that determines the actual size. 

Bernd Weel Design collaborated with Lynx Yachts on Roe Shadow
Credit: Bernd Weel Design

What other design predictions do you see for the yachting industry?

As just mentioned, we will see more designs that are inspired by nature. People want to be close and connected to nature. It fits the current time, thinking about the environment. New projects we are working on all have a certain focus on sustainability. Being efficient throughout the building process, the yacht’s lifetime, and keeping the ‘unnecessary’ out of the design. Technical systems are improving every year to make this possible. We think this is a very good direction for the yachting industry and its reputation. And as a young design studio, we want to be part of this transition.

How did you get your start in yacht design?

I started my career in architecture and automotive design before getting in touch with yacht design. My sister has a long-time career in yachting, and she introduced me to the world of yachting. I was immediately blown away by the design and build process of yachts. For me, it connects architecture, automotive design, and the desire I always had to be an independent designer. Almost ten years ago in 2013 I started my own studio, and in the early days I got in touch with Wim Koersvelt who got me involved in my first superyacht project: the refit of 91.5 metre Queen Miri. During this project I learned everything there is to know about yacht construction/building, and I am still very grateful that I got this opportunity. From there I got involved in new projects and the company has grown ever since.

Queen Miri was delivered in 2004 as a collaboration between Bernd Weel Design and Neorion
Credit: Bernd Weel Design

Do you have a favourite yacht you’ve designed?

Every project has its own unique characteristics and story. In many cases, it is the owner or client that makes a project truly special. And with many designs currently in development which unfortunately cannot be shown yet, I can’t name just one project or yacht!

Do you have a favourite yacht someone else has designed?

I really like the new Mangusta 165 REV by Igor Lobanov. Sensual lines, and a very interesting design. I think it is beautiful.

Who is your most admired yacht designer?

I think that would be Espen Øino, he has built a big name in the industry and the designs the studio is pushing out are still very relevant and crisp. Modern, robust and at the same time very functional.

Are there any new projects we can look forward to?

Yes, there are a few very cool projects that will be revealed in the coming year ranging from 21 up to 75 meters in length.

Read More/Finalists of the Design and Innovation Awards 2023 revealed

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