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Designer insight: The ingenious design decisions behind Heesen’s Project Grace

28 November 2023 • Written by Hannah Rankine for Heesen

Elegance, nature, simplicity and confidence - these were just a few of the guiding principles that Heesen Yachts handed to British design studio Harrison Eidsgaard when tasked with the creation of 50-metre Project Grace. The first of Heesen’s brand-new steel fast displacement hull series, Project Grace is a sub-500GT marvel that has been meticulously designed to stand the test of time.

In an exclusive interview with BOAT International’s Hannah Rankine, designer Peder Eidsgaard reveals the nuanced decisions and creative inspirations that breathe life into this sensational superyacht.

Exterior elegance

The profile of Project Grace is a marriage of sharp, modern lines and low bulwarks, creating a visual symphony that opens up the surrounding views. Simplicity is at the heart of the design, drawing inspiration from the minimalist aesthetics of iconic brands like Range Rover, Rolex and Bang & Olufsen. Eidsgaard's vision is clear: eliminate excess to enhance elegance. Mindful of the ever-evolving landscape of design, Eidsgaard ensured that the yacht's aesthetic is future-proofed, explaining: "When designing the exterior, we wanted to pare it down and take away as many elements as possible and then make the boat look good from every angle, which is the approach by some of the more advance car companies."

The simplicity of the exterior allows clients to personalise their exterior colour coordination requests. "Range Rover cars have been designed so that they can have a two-tone exterior paint, and that’s exactly what we intended to do for Heesen’s Project Grace as well," Eidsgaard says. "A client should be able to say, ‘I want a dark hull with a light superstructure or a dark grey top with a light grey hull’. In order to make all the different colour combinations look good, we had to make sure we consider those colour variations as part of our design from the very beginning."

To enhance the yacht's visual impact, long black windows on the exterior create an optical illusion, making Project Grace appear longer than its physical dimensions. The inclusion of full-height windows was also a carefully thought-out process. "There’s a careful balance of making the interior feel very open and light with big windows whilst carefully planning the upper and lower edge of the windows on the exterior so that the boat looks like it is really going at speed," explains Eidsgaard. This delicate equilibrium ensures that Project Grace exudes both an inviting interior ambiance and a powerful exterior presence, while the inclusion of arches above the sundeck emphasises the prominence of the wheelhouse, adding a sense of confidence to the overall look.

Bringing the outside in

A seamless connection between the interior and exterior was a key focus in Heesen's design brief for Project Grace. "On modern yachts, wherever you are, you want to experience the stunning outside views through the windows," Eidsgaard says. "To achieve this, Project Grace does not have traditional fashion plates at the back. So, when you’re in the sky lounge, there are 180 degrees of glass all the way around with no obstructions at all. I think this is a more modern approach to yachting – it no longer feels like you’re sitting inside a boat, but instead looking out."

The main saloon, aptly named the 'beach lounge,' showcases this approach with its seamless connection to the aft deck. Eidsgaard explains: "On Project Grace, we decided not to have a beach club but instead to make the main deck lounge seamlessly connect to the aft deck with huge doors, which cascades down to the water where there are integrated sun beds with the swimming pool at the centre of it all." The intention is that the aft deck will feel like a beach club with a casual, laid-back atmosphere.

Sky lounge

Sundeck splendour

The sundeck of Project Grace is a marvel of design, offering ample space for relaxation, entertainment and large gatherings. Eidsgaard reveals the innovative design decisions to achieve this exceptionally large space: "The exterior lines actually trick the eye to make it look like the yacht has a very long foredeck. But actually, the whole superstructure is placed quite far forward and that has the benefit of making the beach club, the sky lounge and also the sundeck much bigger."

Positioned at the forward end are sunpads, providing an ideal spot to bask in the sun. Moving aft, a sophisticated seating area with plush sofas encircles a glass coffee table, ingeniously serving as an atrium skylight for the deck below. A large dining table takes centre stage, capable of expanding to accommodate up to 20 guests, allowing for memorable gatherings and the addition of visiting day guests on board. Adjacent to the dining area, a generously sized bar, equipped with bar chairs and a dedicated pantry for the crew, ensures impeccable service. Finally, at the very aft zone, loose sun loungers provide further space for relaxation and their stackable design allows for an open deck for entertaining.

"These different zones mean that guests can hang out at the same time without necessarily sitting on top of each other," explains Eidsgaard. "This is perfect for multigenerational get-togethers – perhaps the older generation want some quiet time to sit down and read a book while the mid-generation extend their lunch while the children go to the sunpads with iPads."


Tailored interiors

Project Grace's interior is both contemporary and well-connected. "The interior staircase is a key feature," notes Eidsgaard. "It leads from the guest cabins up to the main deck and then up to the bridge deck. Above the staircase, the skylight - which, as previously mentioned, doubles as a coffee table on the sundeck - allows natural light to flow all the way down to the lower deck."

“Heesen will be offering three contemporary, but very different, interior styles based on one architectural model that have been carefully designed to suit the modern layout of Project Grace," Eidsgaard notes. "Clients can choose their preferred colour scheme, with suggested upholstery, type of wood used, and more."

There is even the possibility to select onboard amenities to suit the owner’s requirements. "On the lower deck, we have four good-sized guest cabins, plus a fifth one, which can either be a full-beam VIP cabin or we can offer it as a gym or a spa," Eidsgaard adds.

For more information on the awe-inspiring Project Grace, contact Heesen today.