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SDS 2019: Top superyacht designers reveal their greatest mistakes

Leading yacht designers joined together to discuss the worst mistakes of their careers at the Superyacht Design Symposium. Never buy anything online and don’t commit to a project before its absolute confirmation were key lessons imparted by the panel, which included Pascale Reymond, Mike Reeves, Dickie Bannenberg and Andrew Winch.

The four designers each discussed the biggest disasters of their careers and the consequent lessons they learned. Both Winch, who is creative director and founder of Winch Design, and Reeves, partner of the firm Claydon Reeves, warned fellow designers not to commit too many resources to a project that hasn’t had final confirmation.

Winch recalled an occasion when he and his team flew to the Middle East to compete against six other designers for a job penning the interior of “the largest private jet ever conceived”.

“We did win the project but we were told that 10 years later,” he said. “The project never went ahead and the fuck up was make sure you know the project is going to go ahead before you commit to a project of this scale.”

Reeves also recalled an experience during which he and his team produced 12 renderings of a yacht in “all the colours of the star signs”. “The client said he wanted 12 of these boats but unfortunately when the work was done, the client disappeared and the work did not materialise,” he said. “You’ve got to choose your moments, it can cost a lot of time and money and then it doesn’t come to anything.”

Pascale Reymond, co-founder of Reymond Langton, meanwhile, had one main lesson to impart; don’t buy online without seeing the product first. She shared "the story of the golden Buddha”, which has now become so infamous that it is told to every new recruit that enters the company. Reymond recalled that she ordered a 1.6 metre sitting golden Buddha for a client’s garden despite not seeing the piece “in the flesh” first. After waiting two months for the ornament to arrive, Reymond ordered cranes that were primed to deploy the Buddha into the garden.

“The Buddha arrived and I was horrified,” she said. “It was fat and heavy and it was just stone that had been painted gold.” After attempting to find the Buddha a new home in a London-based temple, Reymond deposited the Buddha into a storage unit before changing her business address. The saga “sums up every mistake,” Reymond said, of “dimension, weight and colours”. “Now, I have to see what I buy,” she added.

Company leader of Bannenberg & Rowell Design, Dickie Bannenberg, agreed that attention to dimensions, numbers and colours were key in avoiding mistakes.

He recalled one occasion when a client had approved a master bedroom design on board a Feadship yacht. However, when the client accompanied the design team to the marble yard she changed her mind. “The client saw a pale pink onyx and loved it. It was up to me to advise but there comes a point when you ask whose yacht is this?” he said.

“When it was installed on board, it was installed with a colour enhancer, which we didn’t know at the time.” The result was a lurid pink bathroom, unrecognisable from the original concept Bannenberg and his team had created. “Luckily, she liked it anyway,” he added.

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