Setting the scene: Fiona Diamond on tableware trends for 2019
by Tory Kingdon
While beautiful, elegant, design will always be in fashion, today’s superyacht owners seek flexibility of use, from mix-and-match sets to versatile accessories
Design studio Seymour Diamond may be a relative newcomer on the superyacht scene, but its founder, Fiona Diamond, boasts a design career that spans 30 years. Since graduating from the Chelsea School of Art, Diamond has worked around the world alongside leading architects, specialising in commercial and residential design, and designers, most notably the lauded Terry Disdale. Past yacht collaborations include the 162.5-metre Eclipse, 139.3-metre Al Salamah, 90.1-metre Ice and 92.5-metre Royal Romance.
Diamond founded the Mayfair-based company in 2010 and has since worked on the design of the interior and exterior of yachts, as well as prime residential properties and private aeroplanes. The studio prides itself on its project management, offering efficiency and certainty for budget and build schedules, and giving peace of mind to its clients as a result. Diamond and her team also work closely with exterior design studio Gresham Yacht Design.
Having lived in Madrid, Sweden and Holland as a child and travelled extensively since, Diamond draws her design inspiration from travel and nature, and is a lover of colour, texture and a touch of the unexpected.
Fiona Diamond on tableware
“Tableware may seem like a small detail on a boat but it’s a significant consideration. You want to be able to offer a different experience in each of the boat’s dining areas, and it’s important to think about the desires of the client and how they like to do things. For instance, what style of food do they like? Do you need pizza plates and salad bowls, chopsticks, pearl spoons for caviar or lobster sticks? The list is endless. For one previous boat project we needed 1,000 silver teaspoons on board, due to there being more than 30 coffee and tea areas.
We’ll often select non-breakable glassware sets for around the pool and Jacuzzi areas and we might have ice cream bowls on decks. Some clients like to have breakfast in bed, or have specifically asked for a pantry for preparing their own coffee or breakfast in the morning. To accommodate this, we would have separate sets that match the owner’s suite rather than the dining room. There might be a minibar in the bedroom too, for which you’d need everything from espresso cups to champagne glasses. A family boat, meanwhile, might require special children’s sets.
One important consideration is the storage allocated for the pieces you’re going to buy as everything needs safe stowing during transits and crossings. This can’t be an afterthought as joiners will usually need samples of the plates and glassware prior to building the joinery. We once created a room that was solely for china storage; we knew early on in the project that the client loved entertaining and wanted five different sets on board, so we had time to plan for it. It’s a tricky balance in the timing as you also need to have the colour schemes and general concept of the boat together to ensure the tableware designs are complementary. However, you can’t be so far down the line that you can’t change the storage options.
Before you start thinking about the look and design of things, you need to ensure whatever you’re selecting is stable and has the right weight, to ensure it won’t blow off a table in a breeze or topple over with a small wave. Recently clients have tended to opt for practical sets over bespoke pieces: people like things to be dishwasher safe. Plus, if you have a bespoke piece that gets broken it’s often harder to replace – and particularly in the case of charter boats, where you need to have china rolling on from one charter to the next; you won’t necessarily have the time to replace things.
For charter boats, we also tend to go for mix-and-match sets, for all the various table settings and themes that charterers like to enjoy. You might have 14 evenings to prepare for and you want to be able to provide a different atmosphere and table setting for each night.
There is a general trend towards informal options – perhaps less fussy, more contemporary styles – but even if it’s a plain white plate, it still has to be good quality. The new generation of yacht owners who are in their thirties don’t necessarily want a heavily gilded china set as their parents might have done. I think it’s a progression of style in general. Things are becoming more straightforward. Accessorising is important for variety, as you can have simple china or glassware and dress it up or down. Lunches tend to be more informal on a yacht than evening dinners, so it gives you that ability to mix things up or change the tone.
We use a wide selection of brands, sometimes suggested by an owner, sometimes by an agent we might use, or it might be something I’ve found. We often look to suppliers such as Glancy Fawcett, who can specify quantities and instinctively know how to ll in the gaps of essential items; they have years of experience. There are newer companies too, like Gillian Weir, who offer a similar level of expertise. The latter has a very creative team for bespoke pieces and logo design, and offered a fresh, colourful approach to a 50-metre refit we did in America; it was very much a Miami-style aesthetic with seahorse and coral motifs that perfectly fitted the brief.
I like the idea of a nautical theme. If you’re on a boat, you have the experience of looking at the sea, enjoying the view and you want things to enhance that. It might be a motif on the china, or simply napkin rings in silver rope. For clients that want something ornate I tend to go to Thomas Goode for his bejewelled accessories. For informal, crisp glassware, I look to William Yeoward, which has a range of clear glasses with a swirling line of either blue or white through them – it’s nautical and fun but you can still see what colour wine you’re drinking. There is so much on the market and so many variables available. We’re spoilt for choice really.