Van der Valk's explorer series kicked off in 2015 with the 36.8 metre Santa Maria T and was followed two years later by the 27 metre Seawolf Explorer. Now, in early 2021, the third hull in the Guido de Groot-designed series Venera is waiting patiently until the relaxation of COVID-restrictions allow its Russian owner to make delivery. In the meantime, de Groot takes us below deck and explains the vision behind her industrial, city loft-style interior.
Venera’s owner has big plans for the 28.5 metre expedition yacht, with intentions to tour the world with his family on board. As a result, he was attracted to the trawler style exterior, which de Groot describes as “one of those designs that has to grow on you”. “It’s purpose-built,” he explains, “a functional design with lots of interior space”. The placement of the master cabin up front of the main deck with windows built into the hull also appealed for its far-reaching ocean views. But from there, the owner “started looking at things in a new way,” de Groot says.
First on the list was a request to have “extra-wide” staircases and passageways to enable easy movement around the boat. The doors, de Groot says, are more than 80 cm wide while the bathrooms are designed to maximise the use of space. “They are quite spacious for a boat this size,” de Groot says. Indeed, de Groot’s favourite space on board is the master bathroom. “With that space, we had to get everything in but still make it look very big,” he says.
One of the most challenging aspects of the design meanwhile was the owner’s request to have the lower deck arranged on one level, without any staircases. “That was quite tricky,” de Groot says. “We had to make the hull a bit higher than we originally planned to create more volume but keeping the lower deck all on the same level is a nice feature”.
Elsewhere, the owner expressed a desire for a beach club and a sauna with a garage door that folds out over the water. “That really came from him,” de Groot says. “The entrance to the beach and sauna is from the saloon so you don’t have to go outside – that was another important thing."
The owner may have been clear in the changes he made to Venera’s layout but when it came to the interior design, he was less certain. “He was a little bit lost at the beginning,” de Groot reveals. “He was thinking something classical but he didn’t really know what he wanted."
This classical theme was thrown out however after the owner consulted an architect in Russia who steered him towards a more modern loft-style interior. “When we were told that was the design direction, we went wild,” de Groot says. “We’ve never done a loft interior before and it was so much fun."
While designing the loft-style interior, de Groot added his own twist by adding an industrial flavour to the design. This is evident throughout the interior, from small details, such as the “factory pipes” that function as air conditioning outlets, to the concrete panels used as cladding in the main saloon and master cabin. These concrete walls also served as blank canvases for two bespoke artworks. “We had to search for an artist who was willing to paint directly onto the wall because it was a risk,” de Groot says. “If it goes wrong, you have to replace the whole wall.”
The finished artworks, which depict a landscape in the main saloon and group of zebras in the master cabin retain the industrial feel by “showing the concrete behind them,” de Groot says. This industrial feel is seen again in the dining area, where the extra high ceilings due to the flybridge above gave de Groot more freedom to experiment. “We wanted to use that extra ceiling height to see the beams of construction,” he says. “The end result looks like an architecture building or a factory where you can see the beams of the building,” he says. Venera’s finished interior, de Groot says, is “clean” and finished in “natural colours” that complement the overall design. “We are happy with the result,” de Groot says. “It was a lot of fun to do – we’ve never done an interior like that before.”