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The devil's in the details: Claydon Reeves on choosing tableware for your yacht

5 September 2018

The right table settings, glassware and barware can make all the difference to a superyacht owner's experience of luxury on board, say James Claydon and Mike Reeves...

Claydon Reeves design studio was formed in 2010 by Brits James Claydon and Mike Reeves. Both began their careers in the automotive industry, the influences of which can be seen in their work in the yachting world, their highly sculpted exterior lines and use of hydroforms clearly inspired by the world of car design. Before founding the studio, Claydon worked with both Redman Whiteley Dixon and Donald Starkey, and despite the studio being a relative newcomer on the superyacht design scene, the team has more than 30 years’ combined experience in luxury yacht design.

From their studio in Lymington, Hampshire, and the more recently opened London office, the team works on both interior and exterior yacht design. Past projects range from the exterior styling and interior of 34 metre Solis, built at the Mulder Shipyard in the Netherlands, to the concept, interior and exterior design of the 110 metre Nobiskrug Radiance.

Claydon (left) and Reeves. Photo courtesy of Andrew Johansson

The studio has collaborated with a number of companies to produce innovative but viable concept superyachts, including the 59 metre Meteora motor yacht in collaboration with Pendennis, and a collaboration with Dykstra Naval Architects on the beautiful 46 metre sailing yacht Exo. The latter has a chassis of carbon and glass separated by mullions, giving the impression of being inside the ribcage of a large sea creature when inside the hull.

Claydon Reeves is also known for smaller projects, such as the design of the SV12 for British manufacturer Aeroboat, a 16.7 metre dayboat powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, most commonly found in a Spitfire plane, and its furniture design. The same attention to detail can be found in all its designs, whether large or small.

An elegant table setting featuring the Orfèvre collection by Puiforcat

Claydon Reeves on tableware

Tableware is one of those things that could be easy to overlook, but in our minds it’s actually incredibly important. A superyacht is full of beautiful details, from teak decks to silk carpets, but there aren’t that many touch points or things that you interact with. You have so much contact with crockery, glassware, knives and forks; they are objects you see up close and hold and the effect of these on your experience of luxury on board is really significant. You may be on a beautiful, well thought out boat, but if you’re sat at a table drinking out of a glass or eating off a plate you consider of poor quality or bad design that is likely to impact your experience as a whole.

Of course, yacht owners themselves are becoming more and more concerned with design. They’re realising that their superyacht is their moment to show their taste. Owners are becoming more engaged in every little detail, and I think that’s one of the things we offer as a studio: total design, even down to the knife and fork, the glass, the napkin; everything is an expression that ties into the design scheme of the boat as a whole.

Development sketches for the Solis logo

Solis was undoubtedly a favourite project, perhaps for the investment of time that both us and the client spent getting the final design just right. The owners were completely engaged with the project and in particular the logo they wanted to be used, as part of the design scheme. We created 104 versions of the logo, each radically different, before settling on the final one. Once we had that, we looked at all the assorted places we could put it or versions of it, and decided on applying it to all of the crockery.

Each project is different and not all clients will have this level of engagement, but we always begin by getting an idea of what the owner wants. Do they like very fine cut glass? Stainless steel or gold cutlery? We’ll present a huge cross section of every kind of tableware imaginable. It’s important for clients to feel the weight of things, to touch them. Even if we’re developing bespoke designs, this gives us an idea of the sorts of things the client likes.

The Puiforcat Zermatt cutlery collection is striking in its clean lines

We work a lot with Glancy Fawcett, which creates bespoke pieces but also has great relationships with the key suppliers. We’re also big fans of Puiforcat; quite simply they’re at the top of their game and all the collections are amazing. We’re helped by the fact that there is far more choice these days. It used to be that plastic cups were a terrible thing but a necessary evil outside for safety. But now the acrylic crystal and glassware is great. It looks like glass, and the weight and the feel is very similar but it’s able to withstand repeated lifecycles and can be thrown around and dropped without breaking or damaging the boat’s surroundings.

The great thing about tableware is its ability to set an atmosphere. You can have different sets for different times of the day and it becomes a little nod to the passage of the day, or you can create something more formal or something low key. The crew may have to deal with managing and storing it, but in terms of the experience of being on that boat, it’s a very subtle but effective tool. At the end of the day it’s a detail, but as they say, the devil’s in the details.

This article was originally published in Superyacht Interiors, order your copy here.