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.
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?
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.
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.
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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