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Making Waves

25.11.21

Advancements in design in today’s rarefied superyacht universe are dictated less by the latest high-tech gadgetry and colour palette compilations and more by sustainable lifestyle choices. Serena Templeton assesses the onboard style revolution currently underway

As the global superyacht owning community diversifies and owners become more attuned to championing issues around climate change, shipbuilders have been making significant advances with design blue-prints that lessen the damage on our marine environment, not only in relation to propulsion technology and reducing carbon footprints, but also with regards to creating more energy-efficient vessels. As to be expected, a growing eco-conscience mind-set is also underway in relation to sustainable interior yacht design, as studios cite alternatives to more damaging onboard materials.

Sustainable Style

Organisations such as the Water Revolution Foundation are leading the charge, developing tools that enable the industry to assess its environmental impact – not just in terms of CO2 emissions from yachts, but also a full life-cycle assessment based on the most important indicators of environmental impact.

“This new technology not only assesses an entire yacht, the build process and the operation, but can also review a subsystem or focus purely on the hull construction or machinery on board,” explains yachting consultant Jeremy Latham. “It’s really the only way to take a 360-degreeapproach to fully understand what real sustainable choices are.”

This push to sustainability in super yachting has most certainly come to the forefront, with companies offering a wealth of creative ways to turn eco-friendly materials into luxe, on board applications. Yacht owners making their mark on interiors with bespoke elements, include innovative additions such as unique helm chairs plucked straight out of favourite automobiles, substituting traditional finishes such as shagreen and horn with faux versions including go live-tanned and plant-based leathers, as well as fabrics such as organic cotton and bamboo which are much kinder to the planet. Reclaimed pitch pine for flooring and cabinetry and walnut and yew for furniture and panelling is proving increasingly popular too. Adds Latham: “Green Blade is a wood-look product made from the disused trunks of banana plants; while mushroom fibres, known as mycelium, are also being used in the creation of a textile that can replace leather, amongst other materials. There are also new resins, made from bio-based formulations, such as sugars, natural oils and corn starch from agricultural waste, and lacquers that are water-based, as opposed to carbon-based.”

Lighting Levels

“Lighting is one of the most important aspects of yacht design,” explains Pavel May of Preciosa Lighting. “When you go below deck, the first aspect you notice is the mood and feeling that space presents. This is where lighting technology comes in: it creates the desired atmosphere. Installations are also becoming more minimalistic and focused on touch-point details – in many instances, light fixtures are literally works of art.”

One growing trend, is the incorporation of natural elements such as stone which can illuminate surroundings without being too harsh on the eyes. LED lighting placed behind gas-filled panels that replicate the earth’s air make-up, is also more in evidence. “When you turn the LED light on, the panel looks as though it has real sunlight behind it,” May adds. “Panel technology creates such a fantastic effect, so much so, it’s difficult to tell the difference between an actual skylight.”

Glass Grooves

More recently, shipyards have been investing heavily in there search of glass, leading to innovative, flexible uses of the material for superyacht exteriors. This is having a knock-on effect on boat interiors too, as an element that connects inside and out, with demand for innovative new uses of glass coming to the fore.

“Designs have become more radical,” explains Erik Van Beek of Beekman Yachts. “We’re incorporating more engineering challenges into our designs, such as curved double-height glass panels, each one precision-engineered. It’s also becoming increasingly important to find ways to make the structural assets of a design merge seamlessly with the overall style aesthetic.”

A desire for more contemporary space is also an increasingly common request, often open plan, with expanses of glass allowing light to flood in and guests to feel closer to nature. As such, it allows the landscape to become a backdrop to the interior itself.

“Window size can have a further enhancing effect on the interior space,” explains Van Beek. “Again, with a neutral palette of warm wood tones and calming natural fabrics, sunlight filtering into yacht space, can not only benefit the interior in terms of light flow, but also enables those on board to enjoy the uninterrupted ocean views. Owners can also ramp up the design with seamless bulwarks, geometric shapes, even full-panoramic panels.”

Design Zen

Once upon a time, yacht owners might have expressed a degree of theatrics through the use of lavish colour schemes. Today’s narrative by contrast, places far more importance on a muted environment and rest and relaxation. Here, natural earthy tones take pride of place. “These shades connect back to nature and create a feeling of stability,” says interior designer Johanna Taylor-Young. “The world is becoming more at one with nature and there’s been an increase in demand for designs that enhance the natural landscape.

Think sky blues, sage greys, classic whites and blush tones. Coaxing a laid-back palette with plenty of natural materials, these calming colours work to warm up any space. “We tend to use oak as a backdrop with yacht interiors, as this means you can highlight areas with dark furniture punctuations that contrast beautifully,” adds Taylor-Young. “Bamboo and leather are firm favourites for creating tactile warmth. The aim is always to create a space that feels like a home from home.”

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