The big blue


Yacht design is in a golden age, with vessels being expertly conceived with both performance and elegance in mind. Luke Thomas investigates some of the hottest on-board trends making waves in the industry

While a lot of the world is tightening its purse strings, the mega-rich are taking to the ocean waves on an increasingly more lavish, state-of-the-art scale. 2018 was a bumper year for super yacht sales with 300 sold compared to 2017’s 249. 300 may seem like a niche number, but when you take into consideration that Dreamworks founder, David Geffen spent $590 million on his 454-foot super yacht, the figures soon stack up.

Luxury and super yacht sales are forecast to increase further in the coming year with Coburn & Associates predicting a rise in retail sales from $39 billion in 2017 to $42 billion in 2019, and by 2% for new boat sales.

“Tailoring boat design to meet owners changing needs has seen a marked shift in direction in recent years – with more of a focus on high-tech interior spec and layouts,” explains yachting consultant Jeremy Walter.

“Interior design for yachts is a completely different discipline to real estate, notably allowing for the quirks, necessities and safely aspects of the vessel. Everything has to fit with absolute precision into the available square footage.”

Adds Walter: “Development of new technology, accessories and features are evolving at a rapid pace too. Mod cons of the home can now be incorporated into yachts, offering sailors a literal floating house. Being wired for the waves is the future.”


An iconic brand down the decades – Sunseeker’s expertly crafted vessels can always be spotted docked in the world’s glitziest marinas. Stuart Jones, Interior Design Manager at Sunseeker explains: “A major influence in 2018 came from nature, with a keen trend based around natural materials - especially fibres and renewable sources. This has resulted in a concerted effort to specify ethically sound and sustainable sourced finishes, especially woods.

“Composite stone is now also very popular and is sometimes preferred to marble because of the consistency of finish and variety of options. Plastics and acrylics albeit hardwearing, are now less popular and are increasingly being substituted with bespoke glassware and accessories. We’re also seeing a definite move away from opulent design and heavily embellished detail to a more refined, understated look.

“With this in mind - I expect the ‘Art Deco’ influence to become more prominent, inspiring both textile design and furniture details with furniture design moving towards custom pieces and original crafted style. It’s a change that will likely involve more metalwork; polished stainless-steel finishes replaced with gold and bronze in a variety of different textures.”


Harrison Eidsgaard

Founded in 2005, Harrison Eidsgaard has quickly risen to become one of the most sought-after names in the super yacht design industry. Ben Harrison, Director at the firm said: “Every client has a different wish list and our challenge is to realise their dreams but also to make sure that they fit harmoniously with their yacht’s design.”

“A lot of clients have been asking us for elements that harmonise with an outdoor lifestyle – lots of glass and natural light. More and more people are embracing environmental concerns too,” he continues.

“We’ve recently been creating fixed balconies with glass doors rather than the fold-out ones requested in the past. A preference for fresh air rather than relying on air conditioning is a further shift.

“Tier 3 requirements are due to come into effect soon and all new build vessels must conform, which pushes sustainable design to the fore. The legislation means that emissions must be emitted from the boat via the stack, rather than being pumped directly into the water. With this in mind, the next 10-15 years will see some significant changes in green technology in the industry. It’s a welcome change – currently a cruise ship sitting in port in Monaco pumps out the equivalent emissions to about a million cars. Not an attractive reality.”


Lawson Robb

Leading global interior architecture and interior design house headquartered in London since 2003, Lawson Robb has also worked extensively on Yacht interiors. Eva Leone, Projects Director at Lawson Robb explains: “Year-on-year trends is an interesting subject for yachts, due to the low volume nature of the industry, we don’t see the same pace of change as the residential sector.

“We are however noticing a new era of ‘excitable design,’ where every inch of the vessel has some kind of feature or special finish.

She continues: “In the past year or so, we’ve also seen a selection of designs that pose as a hybrid between pared back and uber glam; a relatively un-complicated palette offset with balanced pops of colour, complemented by an ‘interesting’ detail – whether it be the shape of a surface, the transition of one finish to another, or a key piece of furniture with some real aesthetic interest.

“Yacht owners are also embracing their own autonomy on board: The way the world now operates, on an instant-fix basis, with wealth being accrued in much different and often less structured ways is having an impact on what owners look for.

“As such, we’re seeing yachts with more flexible spaces where less prime floor space is given to lounges that are never used, where dropping anchor isn’t necessarily the same place year by year or month by month, where staff aren’t necessarily so invisible and where an owner might actually want to make his own eggs in the morning. This movement could be very exciting for the industry as spatial planning comes increasingly to the fore.”


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