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Designer Q&A: Espen Øino

8 April 2020

In the this instalment of our designer Q&A series, we profile superyacht designer Espen Øino on drawing boats in class and his ultimate design fantasy of a 15 metre, energy efficient yacht.

First experience on a boat?

My grandfather built engines for boats. I still have the memories of being on board with him on the west coast of Norway.

The first boat you designed?

I drew tonnes of boats as a kid – at school I was being yelled at by the teachers for it. I drew ferries, I drew cruise ships. I put a little address with a telephone number like it was my office.

Octopus, Øino's breakthrough project

What was your big break?

After eight years with Martin Francis I started my own business and I guess my breakthrough came with Octopus and Skat. Octopus was the real first big explorer yacht. The GA was complicated because the owner’s brief for a lot of tenders and a big sub, none of which should be visible while cruising – two helicopters as well. Then through that project we met the guy we designed Skat for, but being a smaller boat she was delivered before Octopus. All these flat intersecting surfaces, big windows. A lot of people were critical about it. But a lot of people loved it as well. Nobody was indifferent, which is always good.

Greatest sources of inspiration?

A lot of it is things you see every day – cars, trains, planes, other boats, ships, or it could be nature. I am very observant, and I have a lot of snapshots on my phone.

Favourite yacht design?

Acajou which means “mahogany” in French. It was built in France in mahogany, a collaboration between Jon Bannenberg and André Mauric, who was the naval architect.

Øino began his own company after working with Martin Francis for eight years

Most admired yacht designer?

There are many, but the guy who really invented our industry is Jon Bannenberg.

Favourite furniture designer?

I like Gio Ponti. His chairs are absolutely stunning.

Favourite building?

I like the new opera house in Oslo. It’s built in white marble with inclined surfaces so it looks like a beach that runs into the water. It’s about l’ensemble, the whole thing, it’s completely integrated – quite unusual.

The Oslo opera house

Ultimate design fantasy?

To do my own boat. It would be an energy efficient, 15 metre boat, designed for an owner-operator and resolutely modern but a bit “off-road” to do the Norwegian coast in winter and summer.

If you hadn’t been a yacht designer?

I think I might have worked in shipping. Either that or a mountain guide. I love the mountains, I love skiing. But shipping is a super interesting, albeit difficult industry.

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