SDS 2019: Daniel Simon urges limitless yacht design in keynote speech
by Miranda Blazeby
Visionary vehicle designer Daniel Simon has urged superyacht designers to create without limits and seize the lost opportunity of sailing yacht design.
During his keynote speech at the Superyacht Design Symposium, Simon reflected on his journey from growing up in a shipbuilding family on the German coast to becoming a vehicle concept designer on Hollywood films such as Tron: Legacy and Star Wars.
He revealed that he is constantly inspired by questioning and reimagining the status quo. “I think if I landed on Planet Earth (as an alien) I would think – why did they build that bridge like that? I constantly wonder why we do these things and my inspiration is always to question how they could look a different way.”
He added that status quo in automotive design has caused the industry to "plateau". “In the automobile industry we always think about horsepower and speed and now we have reached a plateau and we are thinking about what other things can be bragging rights for customers?”
He urged superyacht designers to apply the same school of thought to find innovative solutions in yacht design. “I sometimes really wonder how long will the fight for length continue? Is there a new generation coming that finds it almost awkward to have the biggest yacht in the harbour? Maybe it’s about other things, maybe it’s about having the lightest yacht in the harbour.”
He lamented 2018's year on year fall in sailing yacht sales and called on designers to seize the opportunity of sailing yacht design. “Being out on the ocean and sailing and using wind is phenomenal to me. What a missed opportunity, I really hope there is more research done into that.”
In the search for innovation, Simon urged designers to create without limits and revealed that he often has a “silly Friday” during which he “freely creates without the pressure of a client or a pay check.” “I try to do this as often as I can,” he said.
Simon also used his speech to call on designers to take more responsibility for the environmental sustainability of their designs. Designers should be honest, he said, about how much damage their designs cause to the environment and how they can be reused after their life cycle. He compared the concept to nutritional information on food packaging.
“Why isn’t there a sticker on every boat and car saying what materials were used, saying how long it took, how to recycle it” he said. “We have a strong responsibility to educate and explain how things can be taken apart after they have ended their life cycle. I really think there needs to be way more transparency in the industrial world to what products do to the environment."