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Furniture designer Tim Gosling on getting creative at sea

Furniture designer Tim Gosling on getting creative at sea

Furniture designer Tim Gosling talks to David Nicholls about getting creative with superyacht interiors and being adventurous with bespoke commissions...

I enjoy pushing the technical boundaries of materials in my work. This in itself leads to the creation of many bespoke pieces – in a way so much of what I create is experimental work. Some of this the client will be part exploring with me, some of it the client might not notice that much; like the technique of creating pieces with carbon fibre, the compound curves and the mould making that is an instrumental part of making those designs.

The superyacht designs of the past few decades have been based on emulating a house – the Royal Yacht Britannia had working fireplaces within the design, as did one of the largest superyachts constructed last year, Galactica Super Nova, at 70 metres LOA.

I think these confines are changing. In a bespoke world where anything is possible, clients are becoming more adventurous and want to create a truly unique space and new style of boat living.

I have been lucky enough to create work for a range of wonderful superyachts. Some I’m allowed to talk about, but some have to remain in the world of complete privacy and mystery. Phocea was magical. Created in 1976, she was the largest sailing boat ever made before 2004 (she’s 75 metres long) and was world famous for her singlehanded transatlantic racing. The most wonderful thing about her is that she just oozes style and sophistication.

The height of chic aboard these amazing boats is dining as if you were in a Michelin-starred restaurant while gazing out on a view across the horizon and surrounded by sparkling turquoise water. It’s not so chic doing the same thing while sitting moored in a harbour, cheek by jowl with other superyachts, and everyone judging their next door neighbour’s boat.

If the tender taking you off the boat to the occasional dinner or lunch on land isn’t big enough it really gets frustrating. There’s nothing worse for a lady than her evening dress getting soaked in salt water before arriving at a really chic restaurant – and having to look happy about it.

I created some really amazing pieces for Phocea’s interior using blue straw marquetry – and bronze edging. That colour is sensational on a boat, though it shouldn’t be over used. I would also use materials that feel natural like cut straw, vellum, wood that hasn’t been sealed in a high gloss lacquer, natural silks and linens.

The idea of white with wood is one of the basic foundations of design in this arena. If it was purely in white it tends to lack a feeling of tactile sensitivity; make it purely in wood and you start feeling overwhelmed by a sense of history. It’s all about balance.

A small tip: air conditioning in boats makes the edges of the room very dirty, so white carpet can be a nightmare if it goes up to the edge. I love being able to see out through the windows, especially in the cabins. One of my all-time favourite things to do is take a bath and look out at the sea through the open window – now that’s luxury.

In many ways designing for a boat provides an opportunity for designers to stretch their legs even more creatively than on land. You have to come up with solutions through good design. Look at what is being made now – bespoke furniture that we couldn’t have dreamed of 50 years ago.

For details of the Gosling Marine furniture collection go to tgosling.com.

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