When it comes to choosing furnishings, crew are in a unique position to comment on what works and what doesn’t, offering vital insight and feedback on key living spaces. Having had considerable input on the purchasing decisions of several new build and refit projects, Zyanya Sebastian, purser of new-build motoryacht Cloudbreak, explains some important considerations for crew choosing on board furnishings.

Light-matt finish interior by Terence Disdale Design

A key issue for Sebastian is that designers don’t put enough thought into how crew are going to maintain a product. “Furnishings need to be able to wear and they need to be long lasting, but they also need to look clean,” she explains. “Everything always looks great when you first set up a boat, but after just the first season things can look horrendous.” 

Crew spend a substantial amount of time cleaning, so furnishings that make their job harder are often held with contempt. “On one boat we had these gorgeous glass shelves everywhere, with mood lighting shining right the way through them,” remembers Sebastian.

“But it didn’t matter how much you cleaned them, they always had dust on them.” The crew decided that the best way to remedy the problem was to push the lighting bulb so that it faced the wall instead of the glass – perhaps not how the designer had intended the display to look, but a necessary action for crew operations.

“Furnishings need to be able to wear and they need to be long lasting, but they also need to look clean."

Choosing the wrong furniture can also be problematic. “On another boat we had a very grand wooden table in the dining room, which followed the grain of the wood and wasn’t sealed,” she adds. “I remember having to sit on top of it for hours with a tooth pick and cotton wool bud in order to get the dust out of each and every grain.”

A particular trend that Sebastian has increasingly encountered on board superyachts is heavily brushed, matt stainless steel. “Again, it looks good, but it is the bane of existence for stews because you have to clean it according to the grain and it just looks dirty all the time,” she points out.

With any wood on board, Sebastian favours light, matt finishes over dark, glossy finishes. “We have a light, matt finish on board Cloudbreak and it is fantastic because it doesn’t show fingerprints, and it is very easy for the boat to look clean all the time because there is less shine,” she says. “I always like Terence Disdale’s designs because of this.

“Hardwood flooring is beautiful but I have experienced it on some boats where it haven’t been sealed and is just oiled or waxed. It looks good when it hasn’t been used but if it gets wet or someone stands on it then it bleaches the colour. So as soon as you have a party or guests come in and out with their luggage, it gets very shabby very quickly.”

Understanding the ways in which furnishings operate and be used on board is important to choosing pieces that will not only please the owner, but also be favourable to the crew. What you should look for in terms of function, design and quality is valuable knowledge for any crewmember involved in purchasing decisions.

Have your say in how today’s superyachts should be designed. Meet with the industry’s top designers and shipyards and tell them what crew need from design: come and see us at SuperyachtDESIGN Week, 28 – 30 June 2016, London.