Yacht owners are spending longer on board and want their yachts to have a multi-functional design, a panel of design experts has said.
Speaking at BOAT International's Superyacht Design Festival, the panel discussed the changes in the demands of clients since the pandemic and how this was affecting the GA of today’s yachts. The panel was unanimous on a number of themes impacting the use of space on board, including advancements in onboard technology and a renewed desire for freedom which was heightened by Covid-19 lockdowns.
The panel was composed of Valentina Zannier, chief interior designer at Nuvolari Lenard, Stefano de Vivo, chief commercial officer at Ferretti Group, Ferruccio Rossi, executive director at Sanlorenzo and Sebastiano Vida, head of product development for custom yachts at Benetti. The discussion was moderated by Sophia Wilson, BOAT International's digital content director.
Rossi called the lockdown a “moment of change” and noted that yacht owners are no longer using their yachts exclusively as “holiday vehicles”. “It’s more about practicality and enjoyment,” explained Rossi. “At the same time, people aren’t thinking of yachts as being disconnected from the world.”
To this end, child-friendly spaces and well-equipped work stations are becoming increasingly important, added Rossi. Vida agreed, arguing that yacht owners want an experience “closer to their way of living at home”. He championed flexibility and the ability to “change and convert spaces from day to night use, just with a little bit of reconfiguration.” For this reason, he noted that dedicated single-use areas, like the dining saloon, are becoming less in demand.
The pandemic may also have accelerated an already existing trend for younger clients and first-time clients entering into yachting, according to the panel. “[For] Ferretti Group, last year over 50 per cent of contracts signed were for clients who had never had a boat before,” de Vivo told the audience. “If you looked at this number in the early 2000s, it was probably under 10 per cent.”
With a new generation of owners comes new demands. “This is where we’re seeing the shift,” confirmed de Vivo. “We’ve lost a lot of the conservative clients and the rules that come with that.” An uptick in the semi-custom market, as evidenced by the Global Order Book, is “making our jobs even harder because you need to understand what the next trend will be, and apart from being multi-functional you need to also think about what the challenges will be."
The panel discussed the spotlight on wellness areas and the push for an indoor-outdoor connection. “The spa area has changed a lot in the past few projects,” said Zannier. “This is clearly linked to the amount of time that owners want to spend on board.” She used 115.1-metre Ahpo as an example and emphasised her multi-functional wellness area with waterfront access.
A fresh design perspective is also key to pushing boundaries, according to Rossi. “Studios that come from [land-based] backgrounds, they really push us to go beyond, reinvent spaces and to always think multi-dimensionally," he said.
In the future, efforts to increase onboard sustainability will shape the GA. "The impact of new propulsions, new fuel, will have an impact on the overall space because that will become more central," said Rossi.
The panellists covered a spectrum of yachts ranging from 24 to 115 metres, with numerous examples of where yachts had pushed boundaries. While it is clear there are new demands the way that client's ambitions can be realised can vary dramatically, "there’s not one way, especially when you’re at sea,” summarised de Vivo.