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The emerging yachting designers making waves

11 December 2023 • Written by Holly Margerrison

From new faces making their breakout entrance into yacht design to land-based designers turning their attention to yachts, there has been plenty of fresh talent in the industry over the past year. BOAT introduces the designers and studios defining today's yachting landscape, each with its own expressive and distinctive identity.

Name: Phathom Studio
Founding year: 2019
Notable styles: What has become apparent in the fledgling Dutch studio's portfolio is its use of glass to enhance natural light – as seen on the studio's first on-the-water project, Gulf Craft's Majesty 111, where it broke with the shipyard's usual design language. Sitting below a glass-floored dip pool, the owner's cabin is bathed in light, while the main and lower deck benefit from a glass and Perspex central staircase below a skylight. Later this year, Phathom teamed up with Greek shipyard Golden Yachts on the 65-metre concept Vesper, where similar codes have surfaced. The inclusion of a multi-storey light column will provide interior decks with natural sunlight from the upper deck, while an oversized infinity-edge pool will be divided by a "glass wall with a pool bar that connects swimmers to guests in the beach club".

Project Oro's beach club

Name: Valentina Zannier
Founding year: 2023
Notable styles:
Zannier boasts an impressive portfolio of yacht designs in collaboration with Nuvolari Lenard, not least the intricate interiors of Ahpo, but her solo venture has propelled her into a new era. This starts with an impressive full-custom interior on the 85-metre Project Oro, which is designed to "give the impression of a precious jewel" – brought to life with natural materials, a warm colour palette and "pure, ancestral shapes and motifs". 

Name: Joseph Dirand
Founding year: 1999
Notable styles: Established Paris-based architect Joseph Dirand branched out into the yachting world with the interior layout and design on the first 26-metre Otam 85 GTS Cara Montana. More recently, he is credited for the interior and exterior design of Liva O, the new 118.2-metre Abeking & Rasmussen flagship. He wanted the outdoor space to  "be immersive with the surrounding landscape" – best showcased with the black hull. There's also a swimming pool with a raisable floor which can be covered by a sheet of "liquid marble". 

Name: Burdifilek
Founding year: 1993
Notable styles: The masterminds behind Canadian studio Burdifilek, Diego Burdi and Paul Filek, are critically-acclaimed designers who recently turned their attention to the 60-metre  Amels superyacht Entourage. With a more pared-back design philosophy, the studio hid all the functionality right down to the bars, which are enclosed inside cabinets that match the surrounding walls. It is only upon opening them that the beautifully lit lacquered walls are revealed. Burdifilek embraced the marine language with a colour palette "unique to the owners" and everything customised to the point where artisans offered 14 samples of the custom greyish veneer to achieve the right finish and to oppose the "more is more" aesthetic.

M2 Atelier

Name: M2 Atelier
Founding year: 2011
Notable styles: Milan-based firm M2 Atelier worked on Poland's largest superyacht, 44.2-metre Ace, where they focused on a “less is enough'' philosophy, seen in the limited materials chosen – including teak wood, Lasa marble, grey leather, light-coloured fabrics and dark metal accents. The result is a muted, calm colour palette and design choices to create the feeling of space. In the main saloon, three sofas are designed to give the illusion they are being suspended above the ground, in much the same way the master suite is home to a king-size bed with suspended bedside tables.

Credit: Eray Altay

Name: Unique Yacht Design
Founding year: 2010
Notable styles: With years of experience under its belt, Unique Yacht Design has a multi-functional and adaptable approach.The Turkish studio completed the exterior design and naval architecture on the 80-metre Bilgin Leona, where a striking red hull meets a gleaming “Snow White” superstructure. Unique Yacht Design founder Emrecan Özgün explains they also "opted for a fashion plate, contributing to her unique aesthetic".

Name: Red Yacht Design
Founding year: 2017
Notable styles: With its involvement of 26-metre Edge, Red Yacht Design took cues from explorers or sports utility boats but "made it sporty and appealing to young people". She boasts a distinctive “Porsche Guards red” hull and the studio took a holistic approach to the the design with nature-inspired cues on the interior. More recently, it has conceived the 40-metre sporty superyacht Aisha, with delivery expected in 2024. The nine-month design phase was outlined by an owner who wanted "substantial interior volume" without compromising on performance. The studio responded with a raised pilothouse, a wide 9.1-metre beam and an open aft deck with unfolding bulwarks. 

Name: Andreas Martin-Löf
Founding year: 2008 - 2009
Notable styles: Showcasing his first yacht project, Stockholm-based designer Andreas Martin-Löf applied his signature minimalist style to the interior of the 33.5-metre Baltic Yachts Zemi. He created a muted colour scheme on board and paid particular attention to warm, integrated lighting with 'lanterns' made of Japanese rice paper. The designer also considered weight-saving factors and bonded lightweight warm walnut and limestone veneers to lightweight honeycomb structures. 

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