Young Designer of the Year Award Winners – Where Are They Now?

Yihharn Liu, 2019 winner

Design: Manta, 80 metre motorsailer

The prize for the 2019 Young Designer of the Year Award was scooped up by Yihharn Liu from Taiwan. Liu caught the judges' attention with her 80 metre motor sailer design concept Manta, which beat 41 other entries to the top spot. She originally entered the award as an opportunity to meet and network with fellow young designers. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet a lot of great people, all these young designers, and keep in touch with them and get to know each other,” she said, adding that she “had no idea” that she was going to go home with the award.

Since September, Liu has been undertaking a three-month Oceanco design internship. A place on the scheme was awarded as part of the winner's prize and saw Liu based at superyacht yard Oceanco's Monaco office for the duration of her placement.

Image courtesy of Ed Cavendish.

Nicolò Piredda, 2018 winner (student category)

Scooping the 2018 student prize "fast-tracked" the career of Nicolò Piredda, who impressed judges with his 60 metre explorer yacht concept Galàna. Piredda went on to complete his coveted three-month internship at Dutch yard Oceanco, which saw him work across various processes such as feasibility, construction, durability and concept development. He has since landed a full time job at superyacht design firm Sinot Exclusive Yacht Design.

Nicolò described winning the award as a “career shortcut”. “As a young designer, I used to dream about getting involved in the superyacht industry and now I’m handling my own projects,” he said. “I couldn’t even imagine being here a year ago.”

Thibaud Le Merdy, 2017 winner (student category)

Design: Comète, 80m motor yacht with tenders

Winning the student category in the 2017 Young Designer of the Year Awards provided an immediate boost to Le Merdy’s career as he was offered a role with Silver Arrows Marine less than 24 hours after the prize giving ceremony. This placement has seen him work on the Mercedes-Benz designed Arrow 460-GT speedboat.

Le Merdy (pictured above at the Cannes Yachting Festival 2017) is currently undertaking a three-month internship with Oceanco — part of his prize — after which he will return to Silver Arrows Marine and continue to develop personal projects. Summing up the past ten months, he told Boat International: “All the hard working that went into my entry for the Young Designer of the Year award was worth it.”

Eric Laurent, 2017 winner (professional category)

Design: Hearsay, 80m motor yacht with tenders

Since he won the professional category at the 2017 Young Designer of the Year Awards, Laurent (pictured above at the World Superyacht Awards 2017) has built new partnerships with architects, engineering firms, captains, designers and brokers. Mainly involved in new builds, his studio Elision Design has also been working on refits, tender designs and production yachts with a particular focus on the 60 to 100 metre market.

Baoqi Xiao, 2016 winner

Design: Cerchio, 45m motor yacht

Scooping the Young Designer of the Year award at the 2016 ShowBoats Design Awards kick-started a whirlwind year for Baoqi Xiao, who worked at De Voogt Naval Architects for six months, making several new proposals for Feadship clients with designers from the studio.

Due to graduate from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California later this year, Xiao is currently working on a follow-up to his winning design. Cerchio II is being developed in collaboration with 2010 winner Adam Vorhees with a particular focus on refining the onboard experience.

Timur Bozca, 2015 winner

Design: Cauta, 55m sailing superyacht with revolutionary Dynarig

The 2015 Young Designer of the Year Award brief called for an innovative design for a hypothetical first-time owner — a couture fashion designer who planned to live aboard and who came with an extremely specific set of requirements for cruising and lifestyle. This was the first year a sailing yacht design was specified, and presented a challenge for the entrants, many of whom lacked significant technical knowledge in the field. But it was young designer Timur Bozca and his striking Cauta design, with her forward-looking exterior style and innovative Dynarig sail plan, that won the day.

Despite receiving several job offers after winning the Neptune, Bozca elected to continue working on his own. Based in Milan, his design studio, Timur Bozca, specialises in both yacht and auto design.

Raphael Laloux, 2014 winner

Design: Symphony, 60m SWATH

Three-time Young Designer of the Year entrant and transportation design student Raphael Laloux had his moment to shine at the 2014 competition, when his innovative SWATH concept Symphony was awarded the Neptune. The 60-metre Symphony received the nod from the judges for being a well-balanced design that met the spec as a world cruising family vessel while introducing innovative features.

Laloux’s career in yacht design began a year prior, when as a finalist at the 2013 ceremony he was offered a job to develop a motor yacht range for Loguer Design. After winning the prize, Laloux joined Philippe Briand’s team and currently works on a variety of projects, from production boats for Beneteau to a 50 metre for Pendennis and an 80 metre Vitruvius with Turquoise Yachts.

Stefano Inglese, 2013 winner

Design: Project Granturismo, 65m motor yacht for the car enthusiast

The brief for the 2013 Young Designer of the Year competition called for a 65-metre motor yacht with long range capability specced for an avid car collector who eschewed formality and traditional expedition vessel styling. It was Italian architectural design graduate Stefano Inglese and his Granturismo design that triumphed over other entrants, particularly for its ‘masculine and stylishly edgy’ exterior design inspired by the GranTurismo sports cars.

After receiving his doctorate in architecture, Ingelese worked in London at an ‘archistar’ office before joining Studio Vafiadis, his family’s design firm, in Rome. Responsible for new concept development, Inglese and his team unveiled a Sport Oceanic line for Columbus Yachts and have a 70 metre project under construction at the builder’s yard in Naples.

Benjamin Toth, 2012 winner

Design: ReSeadence 50, survey vessel to luxury yacht conversion

The brief for the 2012 Young Designer of the Year competition was a large vessel conversion that afforded a new interior arrangement and a refinement of the exterior styling from the maindeck upwards. It was Industrial Design degree programme graduate Benjamin Julian Toth who took home the prize for his 50-metre ReSeadence design, which maintained the original hull platform but took an innovative approach in combining modern architecture with traditional exploration vessel style.

Upon winning the competition, Toth worked with UK design firm Redman Whiteley Dixon before venturing out on his own to work for clients and companies internationally on a variety of yacht designs from 50 to 107 metres. Toth also has several product designs due to hit the market, including a client project above 90 metres and an artistic cantilever chair. He is gradually building his team of partnering professionals to cope with new challenges.

Michael Givens, 2011 winner

Design: KT, 76.8m classic fantail motor yacht with modern twist

Timeless elegance was the theme of the year when Michael Givens took home the Neptune for his 76.8 metre concept. Dubbed KT, the winning design perfectly balanced traditional with modern, and featured fantail styling with a long classic sheerline, a beach club, plenty of deck space and a tender garage forward. The narrow hull form coupled with Azipod propulsion promised efficiency for this 1930s-inspired design specced for the first-time yacht owner.

Givens started his career in yacht design, working with Jonathan Quinn Barnett at JQB, Ltd. in Seattle, Washington. After working with Delta Marine and the Delta Design Team for four years, Givens has recently returned to JQB, Ltd. where he has quite a few projects in build, from large yachts to production boats.

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