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

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.”

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.

Maila Speitkamp-Thon, 2009 winner

Design: Draconis, 43.6m multihull with low carbon footprint

As the talk of environmental responsibility reached a crescendo in 2009, the second annual Young Designer of the Year competition awarded German industrial design student Maila Speitkamp the coveted Neptune for her design, Draconis. This 43.6-metre luxury catamaran boasted not only a low carbon footprint, but innovative folding sail wings and the ability to transform into a motor yacht as well.

Draconis was the thesis project for Speitkamp’s studies in Industrial Design at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Upon graduation, Speitkamp became a freelance designer working on yacht projects and spent several years lecturing on yacht styling at her alma mater’s Institute of Ship Technology and Transport Systems department. Today, Speitkamp and her husband Adrian Thon run industrial design firm Thon Design, in Essen, Germany, which specialises in machinery and equipment, measuring devices, electro-mobility and smart home appliances, among other applications.

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