The “Inside” Story – A look at Yacht Interior Design

The interior of SY Twizzle
The interior of SY Twizzle – Photos by M. Bradfield and Bugsy Gedlek

The interior designs of the world’s most luxurious superyachts have made huge leaps in terms of sophistication over the last decade. Stroll around any luxury marina today and it’s evident that a radical shift in yacht design has taken place in the 21st century. Sleek, athletic lines typify the new designs while their luxurious interiors are on a par with stylish Manhattan lofts.
Take Candyscape 1, for example. The Benetti-built 45-meter yacht that property developer Candy & Candy chose for its first foray into nautical design is a striking superyacht characterized by lux and glamour. Hand-printed silks cover the walls, while platinum and gold-leaf finishes and bespoke furniture create an ambience that is reminiscent of early transatlantic cruise-ship chic. It’s hard to imagine anything more opulent.
However, leading designers now believe that such an obvious show of luxury could be a thing of the past, with tomorrow’s designs following a more discrete path.
Toby Ecuyer, creative director at British-based interior design company Redman Whiteley Dixon, said: “The projects we have underway have maintained the original design direction and style we had arrived at in the early stages of the design journey, seemingly unaffected by global economies and financial turmoil.
“However, we are noticing a move to more discrete yachts with the emphasis on quality and integrity. Provenance and pedigree are increasingly important to the discerning yacht owner,” said Ecuyer, whose company was recently named Best Superyacht Interior Designer by the International Superyachts Society (ISS),
His comments were mirrored by those of Victoria Redshaw, a recognized trend forecaster from London. According to Redshaw, managing director of Scarlet Opus, socio-economic factors have a huge influence on the design trends for interiors. “The mood in society plays an integral role in setting the tone of design trends.”
She said, because of the instability, many owners want their superyachts to act as a calm sanctuary from the chaos of the outside world. There is an increased desire for familiar, stable colors that relate to nature, and consumers want room schemes that feel safe, cocooning and cosy.
“Looking forward, interior trends are concerned with stripping everything back and loving what is left,” said Redshaw. “Consumers are increasingly aiming towards more flexible lifestyles as we seek to shed the weight of the ‘stuff’ that ties us down. The mindset of accumulating myriad possessions is changing, and the concept of having fewer but more fabulous possessions becomes the new mantra for many. This is about learning lessons and living within our means.”
Redshaw added that the lust for constant newness was being replaced by a more meaningful love of the special, the unusual, the rare, the cleverly and considerately designed, and the long-lasting.
“We call this trend ‘simply flawless.’ It is concerned with the portrayal of purity, and it is beautifully bare. It explores the space and serenity of a streamlined lifestyle: smooth, compact, uncluttered, nude and quiet.
“We will also see an exploration of hand-crafted techniques resulting in products that display extreme rawness. Designers will revisit and reinvent old crafts and skills to present new levels of rawness as they celebrate the beauty of natural materials.”
Ecuyer sings from the same hymn book. “The yachts we design are always the result of a very involved and ongoing conversation with the owner. Due to the length of time it takes to build a yacht, innovations in material use and style are effectively on a time delay before they are revealed. Certainly new technology has allowed creative use of lighting and cutting ability, so thinner and finer veneers for example can be explored.
“Equally we have encouraged and employed traditional skills to be utilized in creating modern pieces of furniture, which complements our constant endeavor for quality,” he continued. “And the future will no doubt see a further exploration into the limits of materials by the brilliant creative minds who not only understand the technology at their finger tips, but have the vision to unite there technical knowledge with an artisan spirit.”
Hampshire-based Redman Whiteley Dixon was created in 1993, initially working on sailing yacht interiors. As more and more naval architects and yacht owners began to demand higher quality interiors, the company was able to expand its portfolio to include motor yachts as well.
Some of the world’s most prestigious, newest and largest yachts now display interiors designed by Redman Whiteley Dixon, including the 62-meter Icon and 57-meter Twizzle.
Ecuyer said: “I think there will be a greater appreciation for truly excellent craftsmanship as a move towards sustainability, longevity and appreciation of quality will influence our lives and the style in which we live it.”
Patrick Knowles Designs is one of America’s top interior design firms specializing in custom superyachts. And according to award-winning designer Patrick Knowles, 2012 will also see many owners choosing to put a human stamp on their newly-designed megayachts.
Writing on the Patrick Knowles Designs website’s “Observation Deck,” Knowles said “as technology increasingly dominates our world, I find that we gravitate toward the human form as a touchstone to what matters most — the people in our lives. Even in my most contemporary, minimalist megayacht interior designs, I find there is often a place for the human form to complement and strengthen the design.”
Knowles gives the bust featuring four women at his own home, The Ladies of the Season, as an example. “In one way or another, the human form has found its way into a number of my recent design projects,” he said.
However, the more discrete approach to interior designs for superyachts is no cause for concern, according to French designer Remi Tessier, who picked up the Prix du Design 2011 at the Monaco Yacht Show.
“2012 is going to be an important stage for us because we have a number of big projects that we are currently developing, and we hope to build them. We are crossing our fingers.”
Suzanna Chambers is property editor for US magazine France Today and writes articles for various news publications, lifestyle magazines and websites. Her love of yachts began went she went sailing with her father as a child in Poole Dorset, England.