Creative Q&A: Jonathan Quinn Barnett

4 July 2019

In this instalment of our designer Q&A series, we profile Jonathan Quinn Barnett on his big break, the 73 metre Lurssen Coral Ocean_, and how he wished he'd designed Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home in Charlottesville._

Your big break?

In 1992, after five years working with Jon Bannenberg he asked if I would like to be the lead designer/ project manager on a 73 metre Lürssen. The yacht was called Coral Island and has now been named Coral Ocean. She remains an icon of art and engineering to this day.

Source of inspiration?

Original solutions for the “Man Machine Interface” - women.

First boat you designed?

The exterior and interior design of the 37.8 metre Bolero in 1997 after launching JQB with my brother Chris.

Barnett at the launch of Bolero, the first boat he designed, in 1997

Favourite yacht you designed?

The 53.3 metre MLR (Momentary Lapse of Reason) in 2019. A new American built classic yacht from Delta Marine.

Favourite yacht design? (Not yours)

The ocean liner SS United States for all the right reasons – just study her shear and you learn everything one needs.

Most admired yacht designer?

Nathanial Greene Herreshoff. He always reminded me of my father, who was also a mechanical engineer. Always curious and never afraid to learn from experiences with new materials and processes.

On board Coral Ocean, Barnett's "big break" project

Toughest project?

The 55 metre Delta Marine Silver Shalis in 2010. Despite the financial crisis of 2007-8, we persevered and delivered the exterior design in collaboration with Bill Langan and the original interior design for a very experienced yachting couple, on time and on budget.

Thing you’d wished you’d designed? (Doesn’t have to be a boat)

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home in Charlottesville, Virginia. It sits so proudly with a commanding view of the valleys.

Your ultimate design fantasy?

Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel would call and ask if I would design something like the go anywhere Octopus but in a high performance, fuel efficient, 100 metre sailing yacht.

Barnett today (r) pictured with his brother Chris (l)

Favourite furniture designer?

Sir Edwin Lutyens – another unafraid risk taker, who blended classically inspired details in completely new and often frivolous ways.

Favourite building?

One 100th Ave. NE Bellevue, Seattle, Washington. We’ve designed several buildings over the years but this is my favourite.

If you weren’t a yacht designer?

Movie special effects at ILM and automotive design at Chrysler were two industries I was fortunate to work in before yacht design.

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