A superyacht’s exterior profile is on show for all to judge, but only the chosen few know what’s going on inside. Dominique Afacan talks to three of the industry’s best known interior designers about their latest projects and today’s biggest trends
Bannenberg & Rowell
Award-winning design firm Bannenberg & Rowell have been the driving force behind numerous notable superyachts, including Feadship’s 43m Moonsand and Heesen’s 47m Asya.
“I always think that the sheer diversity of owners and what they want slightly mitigates against trendspotting, but if you really twisted my arm I’d say there are a couple of things that stand out. One is the much greater connection boats are having with the sea, if that doesn’t sound too obvious. What I mean by that is people wanting beach clubs, fold-down balconies and terraces – there is a blurring of distinction between interior and exterior spaces. Hand in hand with that is much greater use of architectural and structural glazing – more glass or windows in simple terms. Boundaries are being pushed in terms of the structural integrity of glass and what you can do with it.
Technology is certainly affecting interiors. There is obvious stuff relating to audio-visuals and you can do great things with lighting now – things like heat efficient LED lighting are working their way in. It’s much the same technology as you’d expect to see on land – sometimes yachting is ahead of the game, but sometimes it can be a slow adopter. There are bands of regulations, too, which become increasingly onerous as yachts gets larger.
We’ve had all sorts of things on drawing boards over the years – clients who have wanted a hydroponic garden so that they could be self-sufficient, big, complicated pools – there are all sorts of requests, which you do your best to work in, if budgets allow. We’re quite magpie-like here, we draw inspiration from all over really. If you came in and saw books and pictures on our shelves in our studio, you’d see so much breadth, whether it’s interiors, automotive, architecture – lots of that gets observed and distilled. Our heritage, too, is a big source of inspiration and ideas although we’re probably overly careful not to look back too much – but equally you’d be mad not to be aware of a 50-year back catalogue.”
Design Unlimited has worked on a number of superyacht interiors projects including Bliss, Bill & Me and most recently, 53m sailing yacht Pink Gin V1, which will be unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show.
“Trends for motoryacht clients are different to sailing yacht clients, as you can imagine. They are perhaps a little bit more open to doing something more flamboyant and taking a risk. Sailboat clients, meanwhile, are sometimes a little bit safer. We’re slightly more involved in the latter, and I’d say the interiors trend has typically been quite clean, clinical – almost minimal.
Technology is obviously driving trends, particularly mechanical technology. That allows things like side balconies and clever doors, which we have on some of our recent projects. They are massive engineering pieces – we can dream as much as we want as designers and we can draw what we like, but without some real smart thinking from the technology and structural guys, this sort of stuff isn’t possible. In terms of materials, there’s been a real influx of exterior materials that are actually working inside as well. They feel beautiful, they’re very practical and you can clean them, so it makes sense.
In future, I’d like to see sailboats with more visibility into the sea. On motorboats they are always talking about underwater tanks and things, but it’s all very static. It’s difficult with sailboats because of the configuration, but I sail myself and on those days when the dolphins are swimming alongside the boat, it would be nice if you could see that from the cabins.”
Claydon Reeves have masterminded some of the world’s most beautiful yachts, including the new 36m Delta One and the award-winning 34m Solis.
“Superyachts can be anything they want to be these days. There are more and more possibilities coming all the time, but I think it’s that integration of an exterior and an interior that gets the best results – you can’t do a really striking interior if you’re compromised by what the package of the boat really is. We were involved in both of those elements on both Delta One and Solis. I can’t talk too much about the former yet but Solis was a wonderful project for us. We pursued a very low-to-waterline vista, so there is a nice blend of exterior and interior.
It also uses a very nice palette of colours and has quite a laid back aesthetic for that type of boat.
Of course, technology is driving some of the current trends – it might not directly affect soft furnishings, but it certainly does affect the build of the boat, which can then be reflected on the interior. In the superyacht industry we often talk about being at a super high level of technology, fit and finish. But if you look at aviation, it’s so much higher than that – just the precision of it. It’s so perfect because it has to be. It can’t fail, ever. That mindset inspires us. Aviation in recent times has become quite a big feature of how we think within Claydon Reeves and it informs a lot of the things we’re doing.
In terms of materials, all the normal woods and leathers will continue to be used. But new technology means that things like intelligent fabrics will all be coming into use. That’s an interesting thing. Decking is also a massive element with superyachts. It would be amazing to see someone do a very big yacht and not have a teak deck. It would be a small nod towards our industry becoming more sustainable.”