The A List: Yachting's Top Designers In Their Own Words

What’s the wildest design request you have ever received?

The world’s top designers descended on Cortina d’Ampezzo for the Superyacht Design Festival in February. Here we capture their views – and the spectacular Italian scenery

Martin Francis, Francis Design To work with Philippe Starck!

Sam Sorgiovanni, Sorgiovanni Designs The wildest request (no pun intended) was for a live terrarium on Nirvana, with living camellias, turtles and water dragons, achieved in collaboration with a zoologist specialising in reptiles. It specified environmental needs, humidity and temperature requirements along with a forepeak cricket farm for live feed! However, seasickness was something we didn’t anticipate.

Fiona Diamond, Seymour Diamond I was asked to recreate the decorative ceiling with tortoiseshell from the lobby of the Hôtel de Paris in Monaco for an owner’s lounge. We achieved this by 3D-scanning clay and wood details, which were then produced in SikaBlock by CNC machine, all finally being sanded and painted to replicate the look. Faux tortoiseshell only!

Daniel Nerhagen, Tillberg Design The boat was more or less ready for delivery when the owner came on board and did the walk-around. In the lobby atrium he saw a perfect parking spot for his vintage Ferrari. So not much to do: remove the interior, windows and lining and make a cut out in the bulkhead to be able to lift in the car, then close the opening and put everything back again. Turned out great in the end.

Frank Neubelt, GYC Studio The most complex design brief given to me was a removable, land-storable helipad set over the pool deck on a 70 metre, for carrying a helicopter on exploration journeys only.

What will be the next great disruption in yacht design or construction?

Jarkko Jämsén, Jamsen Yacht design and construction has only really seen two significant disruptions in the last 150 years: the transition from sail to steam and the introduction of GRP. So I’d say that the impact of fusion energy on propulsion is probably the only truly disruptive phenomenon on the horizon.

Adam Lay, Adam Lay Studio Sustainability (responsibility, longevity, re-use, traceability and transparency), along with more healthful finishes and processes, which go hand-in-hand with sustainable goals.

Mark Smith, Michael Leach Design Environmental issues and pressure from global perceptions.

Guillaume Rolland, Liaigre Disruption will come in the way owners use their yachts: less social protocol and more personal journeys in life.

Malcolm Mckeon, Malcolm Mckeon Yacht Design The next great change in yacht design will be classification societies permitting the use of glass as a structural material to allow designers a greater use of glass without the penalties of weight and cost.

Ronno Schouten, De Voogt Naval Architects The next great disruption will be the transition to completely sustainable yachting.

Bill Tripp, Tripp Design Cut emissions in half and have a better yacht.

What’s the one thing you’d love to design that’s not a yacht?

Francesco Paszkowski, Francesco Paszkowski Design I would like to design a clifftop villa. It would blend into nature – hidden or integrated into the landscape ­– and the impact on the environment would be zero.

Wayne Parker, Wayne Parker Design The way we work and live in the world is changing, driven largely by climate change and technology. With these influences in mind, I would love to design a habitat either underwater, which is sensitive to the environment and can withstand the forces of nature, or in space that utilises technology and materials that will withstand the test of time.

Laura Pomponi, Luxury Projects An underwater archaeological museum in which to bring to life and show arts and craftsmanship, or historical vessels that are still hidden in dusty archives or under the oceans.

What design element is it your dream to include in a superyacht project?

Luca Dini, Luca Dini Design & Architecture I have always been in love with natural materials and for this reason I have always tried to integrate in my projects as many materials as possible deriving directly from nature: precious silks, woods, leathers and marbles, with which many Tuscan artists have left indelible traces in history through their beautiful works. While designing yachts, one of the biggest constraints we have to deal with is weight. It has often happened that the employment of objects that I would like to include has been nixed by engineers. For this reason, my next goal is to design marble furnishings using the latest lightening technologies. For example, I imagine the exterior areas of a yacht furnished with tables, armchairs and sofas made with the most beautiful marbles available, which are virtually indestructible and could also feature backlighting.

Peder Eidsgaard, Harrison Eidsgaard I would include a roofless bedroom, independently elevated, at the tip of a very long aft deck: ultimate privacy in fresh air under the stars, to the sound of the waves.

Philippe Starck, Starck Sea, humanity and respect.

John Vickers, Vickers Studio The last 20 years’ involvement with many projects over 100 metres has seen almost everything go into some amazing creations; but personally I have always hoped to include a private owner’s access beach club/toy garage, with cars, bikes, a horse stable for that early morning beach ride – oh, and a small classic sailing yacht!

Ewa Eidsgaard, Harrison Eidsgaard Cocoon-like window seats. I love the idea of sitting in such a prime viewing location looking at waves somewhere in Alaska!

Where do you find your design inspiration?

Dickie Bannenberg, Bannenberg & Rowell Design It’s freely borrowed from everything around me, not always in a logical way.

Espen Øino, Espen Øino International There is inspiration everywhere. One just has to be observant and open-minded.

Laura Sessa, Laura Sessa Studio D’Architettura I find my inspiration everywhere: from a book, a magazine, from nature, visiting a museum or just walking in the street. I collect all my thoughts and ideas in a book that I use when I need them.

Philippe Briand, Philippe Briand Limited We are continually looking for new inspiration and ways to improve our designs. Given the fact that evolution has the benefit of millions of years of trial and error to perfect its designs in nature, a designer can benefit in drawing from its influence. This approach to innovation, emulating nature, has inspired many of our greatest creations and the streamlining of our yachts. As a designer you have a mental “blank sheet” that tends to fill up while visiting museums or simply looking around. But, when I create a yacht I use my inspiration to make the architectural structures interesting, this is where problem solving takes over to create an aesthetically pleasing habitat that can be built and not a render fata morgana (a mirage). There are three fundamentals for my designs: long sweeping lines, stark white, and flawless use of glass.

Immo Ludeling, Beiderbeck Designs Design is attitude. It is in every aspect of our lives but for me I find most beauty in art, nature and classic yachts.

Alberto Mancini, Am Yacht Design I get inspired by travelling around the world – every island, country village and museum I visit is a source for my brain. The islands of Kauai and St Barths are the best places on the planet to get inspired. Then Italian futurist art from 1909 to 1944 inspires me a lot. I can’t stop looking at Umberto Boccioni’s sculpture – it transmits to me a unique sense of speed, form and dynamism. Last but not least, the automotive: my passion since I was a child. Again, I can’t help but touch and examine every single surface of exotic supercars. It doesn’t matter which brand – most supercars can be considered as real pieces of art.

What will be the next great disruption in yacht design or construction?

Tim Ulrich, Beiderbeck Designs Sails will enjoy a renaissance and change, away from a sporty means of propulsion, to become a supplementary option for relaxed and quiet cruising on large and very large yachts. Noting the current trend towards ever-larger catamarans, a new type of superyacht might well develop like this.

Michael Leach, Michael Leach Design New yachts will struggle to match the second-hand ones (circa 500GT) when it comes to usable guest space due to increases in the size of green technology and crew cabins.

Greg Marshall, Gregory C Marshall Naval Architects The next big revolution in yacht design will be 3D printing on a large scale. This has already begun on a limited scale with limited materials. Large metal 3D printers are coming online right now that will be capable of printing an entire boat out of metal. This opens the doors for extraordinary design freedom and quality improvements. For example we are currently designing a 9m tender designed to be entirely 3D printed out of Titanium. Titanium is interesting for many of its properties, it is very light, burns at a higher temperature than steel. Traditionally it is too expensive but with 3D printing we can reduce the material by up to 80 per cent, making the best material affordable. As titanium does not corrode we do not require it to be painted. As it is 3D printed we can optimise all of the structure to suit specific loading and can then make the boat very light while making it stronger. We can also 3D print in hundreds of watertight chambers that we could never afford to manufacture – this will make vessels ultimately safer.

From the design side we can create normally mundane things – like engine room grills – any shape we want. We can make pipes within pipes within pipes, which then make the systems inside the vessel much less complicated. We can also 3D print the electrical wiring into the vessel itself, greatly reducing man hours.

On the environmental front, there is no wastage with 3D printing so the scrap amounts are greatly reduced. Because there is no heat applied to the metal we do not need to do fairing which is a big environmental disaster and takes a huge number of man hours.

Jim Schmicker, Farr Yacht Design The use of foils to enhance stability, comfort, speed and control will continue to be developed and deployed over a wide range of superyacht types. The benefit of significantly reduced heel angle alone improves the habitability and the whole sailing experience of owners and crew.

Guido De Groot, Guido De Groot Design Creating the space on board needed for more economical and environmentally friendly propulsion and energy supply systems.

Bill Dixon, Dixon Yacht Design Is the future sail-powered superyachts, that satisfy the vessel’s power requirements by the free generation of hydrogen from seawater?

Hans-maarten Bais, Diana Yacht Design I feel that a great disruption will be new regulations for emissions, so we have to invent new ways of propelling and powering yachts.

James Roy, Lateral Naval Architects Clients who are brave enough to take risks and invest in disruptive technologies and innovations, married with a lateral-thinking approach to design and engineering.

Where do you find your design inspiration?

Tim Heywood, Tim Heywood Designs I am fortunate in that I find inspiration all around me, all the time. You just have to be receptive to it, make “crossing subject boundaries” the way you look at all objects, be they the thorax of a butterfly or the exposed structure of a 50-floor contemporary office block.

Terence Disdale, Terence Disdale Design Sitting by a lake, watching the sun come up.

Axel De Beaufort, Hermès I find design inspiration in my day-to-day life. Curiosity is the best way to find new ideas, in sometimes the most unexpected situations. I would love my life to be perpetual astonishment. Speaking with craftsmen is also a huge field for building up new ideas and challenges by understanding techniques and seeing how to push boundaries.

Jozeph Forakis, Jozeph Forakis … Design I get inspiration from all aspects of nature: plants, animals and systems, down to the microscopic scale. I’m currently studying the extraordinarily beautiful and weird ultra-deep sea “aliens” being discovered only now. They are better than any science fiction – mother nature has an incredible imagination!

What is the next generation of superyacht owners looking for?

Bernardo Zuccon, Zuccon International Project Adventure and a desire to discover hidden new lands; an authentic fusion with the surrounding ocean; entertainment, thanks to toys and tenders; health and wellness on board.

Marnix Hoekstra, Vripack We believe that the owners of the future are looking to be inspired as much as before, but on a whole new level. Our yachts will remain the vessels for unprecedented personal experiences and the design process will be no exception. Think virtual reality presentations by our avatars, for instance – something our studio is pretty close to doing in the near future. But the yachts will remain beautifully safe and light-filled floating experience centres.

Giorgio M Cassetta Wholesome experiences of harmony and beauty, devoid of useless formalities, that are respectful of the beautiful surroundings and exciting for the people they love.

Antonio Romano, Hot Lab The next generation of owners are looking for a place to disappear from the world, and to socialise with their world at the same time.

Ramon Alonso, Radyca Seaworthiness plus volume plus comfort plus economy plus contemporary design equals a sexy, fast-looking full-displacement superyacht that allows owners to explore coastal destinations in a relaxed yet sophisticated way.

Alexandre Thiriat There is no Planet B. Like more and more people around the world, ecology will be what the new yacht-owning generation will look for.

Pascale Reymond, Reymond Langton More adventures and exploring experiences, still in the comfort of their floating home. Some might also decide to spend longer periods of time on board.

Justin Olesinski, Olesinski When chartering, a quick, easy online booking service will be needed for time-poor clients, with clear pricing options. For future owners, it will be technologically leading media and connectivity. Yachts will be designed for a minimal crew, therefore self-cleaning or dirt-resistant materials, and automatic launching of tenders will be required.

Igor Lobanov, Lobanov Design Owners will always be looking for quality and perfection in execution, but also more and more for sustainability, for design requiring less repair and maintenance, and potentially less crew. As a parallel movement, I see that superyachts tend to have the same features in quantity and quality as megayachts.

Stefano Vafiadis, Studio Vafiadis Future owners have a new vision of luxury, more focused on lifestyle and travelling than being docked in a marina. The boat is seen as a medium to have incredible experiences that no one else can have.

What is a superyacht designer’s most underestimated skill?

Bart Bouwhuis, Vripack The simple ability to listen, to truly listen, to ask again. The sole objective being to allow the designer to surpass the owner’s expectations in the design work.

Andrew Langton, Reymond Langton Listening to what their clients actually want… or making mojitos.

Adriana Monk, Monk Design The art of listening and having genuine intuition.

Jim Dixon, Winch Design The most underestimated skill of any designer has to be flexibility!

Andrew Winch, Winch Design Trust and imagination – but humour and smiling come very close!

How are onboard lifestyles changing and how will superyacht design be impacted?

Mike Fisher, Studio Indigo Young owners will drive change as they live simpler lives, with technology intertwined into everything and an increasing concern over environmental issues – to which the superyacht industry will need to adapt.

James White, March & White We’re seeing an increased desire for hospitality-influenced interiors that amplify guest experience, interiors that create truly lasting memories, not only for the owners, but also for their friends and charter guests.

Mark Berryman, Mark Berryman Design Clients are requesting spa and recreational spaces as they are spending more time on board, and to accommodate this, yachts will need to keep increasing in size.

Enrico Bonetti, Bonetti/Kozerski Architecture Lifestyle on board is becoming less formal, more functional and flexible. Yachts are less evocative of land-based spaces and a more modern and graceful, boat-specific language is evolving.

Dominic Kozerski, Bonetti/Kozerski Advances in audiovisual technology allow for flexibility in the placing of equipment, making media rooms superfluous. This, with the prevalence of tablets, offers freedom in the planning and use of space.

Enrico Lumini, Hot Lab The relationship between inner and outer spaces is getting stronger and the boundaries between these two sectors of any vessel is becoming thiner every day. This requires us to make these boundaries totally disappear and treat the yacht as a whole, as has already happened in civil architecture.

Piero Lissoni, Lissoni & Partners Respect, risks, simplicity, elegance.

Francesca Muzio, FM Architettura D’Interni Yacht owners require multi-dimensional experiences and a deeper meaning behind design. We must have a more intellectual approach mixed with deeper technological exploration, without forgetting the surrounding Natural element. Interior architecture should give you possibilities rather than constraints.

Jonny Horsfield, H2 Yacht Design Clients are now much more interested in exterior lifestyle and fitness so exterior design is now much more fluid between interior and exterior, with bigger, more detailed on-deck facilities, with larger opening doors and glass areas. On one recent project the gym has pride of place on the sundeck!

Andrea Vallicelli, A Vallicelli & C Yacht Design Some technological innovations have certainly contributed in changing onboard lifestyles: for example digital communication systems or transparent materials that allow a new relationship with natural light. However, I believe that the most important aim of yacht design is still to create objects that offer the pleasure of experiencing the beauty of the natural context in an exclusive way.

Simon Rowell, Bannenberg & Rowell Design I can’t generalise about on-board lifestyles; each client is different, and each should challenge designers and builders to realise their dreams. Weird, then, that so many yachts are so similar. We’re trying to recalibrate that. It’s in our DNA as a studio.

Franco Romani, Perini Navi Owners are looking for faster yachts with more aggressive forms. So hull lines have evolved, becoming sleeker towards the bow with generous volumes aft for comfort, with superior performance at sea.

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