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Interiors notebook: Ken Fulk on why yachts should be cosy and luxurious

Designer Ken Fulk shares his top party tips and tells David Nicholls why yachts deserve cashmere and a good crew uniform...

Frankly I find the idea of having a “signature style” a bit odd but, on a good day, I would say my style is personal and thoughtful. I approach each project individually and holistically so that no two spaces are ever alike. At heart designers are really storytellers, creating a narrative and an environment that is both evocative and fresh. Like all good storytellers we focus on the smallest details, not merely the furnishings, but the myriad things that make for an unforgettable experience.

My tastes are varied. I have been obsessed with the plans for the WHY Wally Hermès yacht. But I also love looking at pictures of the steam-powered USS Mayflower, which operated under five US presidents and served in three wars.

Part of the beauty of being on a boat is that you are indeed on a boat and not sitting at home. That said, I do recommend bringing some home comforts on board. Luxurious bedding is a must. So is real china, preferably custom, and good crystal. My preference is for the interiors of a boat to be warm and inviting, a refuge from the often rugged environment when at sea. I lean toward rich woods, lots of texture and a very layered look – but not too heavy.

As for materials I’m always a bit chilled so cashmere is a decadent indulgence when on board. Whether it’s a pile of beautiful throws or custom boat-monogrammed sweaters for the guests to use, I love to see them in an array of glorious colours. Equally, a poorly attired crew is ghastly. After spending the money to fit out a boat, to then not properly consider the crew I think is unforgivable.

One shouldn’t have to worry about what’s on a boat though. While things may be luxurious, they shouldn’t be precious. It only makes for anxious hosts and guests.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a boat then for God’s sake do something memorable! Life is short so make a statement, have fun and bring your friends and family along for the ride.

Ken's Party Tips

  1. Any party needs a well-curated guest list – don’t just invite your usual close circle, spice it up. Remember, it’s a guest’s obligation to be engaging. Leave any bores on shore.
  2. The second key ingredient is great music. I prefer a live performance if possible, or make a terrific playlist. Keep the control close so you can sync the music to the moment.
  3. My party-on-a-boat playlist? At the moment I’m imagining… cocktails at sunset listening to How Deep is the Ocean by Ella Fitzgerald, My Ship by Nancy Wilson, and Beyond the Sea by Bobby Darin.

Ken Fulk is a San Francisco-based event designer and decorator. Visit kenfulk.com.

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