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Interiors notebook: Rabih Hage on why a boat should always feel like a boat

Interiors notebook: Rabih Hage on why a boat should always feel like a boat

Architect and interior designer Rabih Hage tells David Nicholls why a contemporary vision is key and why a boat should always feel like a boat...

Describing one’s own work is difficult but my style was once referred to by a leading design critic as having “a quiet, powerful edge, balancing modern living with old world elegance”. I liked that.

I have always admired the SS Normandie, which was launched in 1932. Her design was all about modernism and the use of innovative designs for the time. She is an icon with such a strong history. Maybe this is why people are still stuck with art deco on new yachts. I think that is a mistake. Most of today’s naval architects and yacht designers are on the cutting edge of 21st century shapes and technology. An art deco interior with this creates a horrible contrast. Boat interior designers should steer the client towards contemporary and visionary beauty and comfort – not a pastiche of the past.

I’ve spent some time on a beautiful Wally sailboat. The idea was, just like the SS Normandie, to commission a different artist or designer for each area of the boat. This was curated and co-ordinated by the owner and me.

There is no reason why one should force the stereotypical bourgeois home interior into a streamlined hull. A design should be site specific. It has to feel like a boat, with all its functionality, innovative forms and harmony with the boat’s exterior shape.

My motto is authenticity. I would use materials as natural as they come. If a partition is made out of aluminium honeycomb glass fibres, I would show it.

If carbon fibre, teak or steels are used I would uncover them. I would be true to the materials – and raw. I would let the natural material talk and tell the story of the boat with no artifice. Finally, I would contrast this rawness with soft materials and carefully chosen fabrics and colours.

Rabih Hage, the Lebanon-born, Paris-educated architect and interior designer, has offices in London and New York, rabih-hage.com

Pictures: Rex Features/Shutterstock; Getty Images

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