Renowned superyacht designer Justin Olesinski explains how, with some clever shapeshifting, there doesn’t have to be any compromise on the distribution of space.

The well-known phrase ‘a happy crew makes a happy owner’ is in part due to how intelligently a yacht has been designed. It goes without saying that crew must be able to work together as a team and provide a first-class service to the owner, but to do this they need an environment that allows them to carry our duties easily and efficiently.

To design an efficient interior is similar to a 3D game of Tetris, where each stakeholder has a hierarchal share of volume and space. The hull, structures, services, drivetrain, regulations and safety all have total priority over space, followed by the owner’s and guests’ living areas. Next comes crew accommodation and working zones, and finally any space left is for storage. To offer an insight, we always start by filling a concept hull with these blocks to evaluate whether that concept is viable within the principle dimensions. Once the main blocks are in, we then propose a number of conceptual layout solutions, stating the pros and cons of each.

As crew, you will probably have your own ideas on how to improve your conditions, efficiency and storage, and any established designer will always be keen for feedback about how they can improve. However, it must be kept in mind that volume is finite and every stakeholder will always want more. Recently, during the design of a sub-24m yacht, our engineers wanted 150mm more length in the engine room while at the same time the interior designers ‘had’ to have 150mm more length in the accommodation – all without extending the yacht. With out-of-the-box thinking, clever design and a few small compromises we reconfigured the Tetris blocks in both the accommodation and engineering space until we satisfied everyone’s needs.

Workflow also plays a significant role in how we design. Take the galley, for example. A well-equipped galley will soon have the chef swearing if the layout is ineffective. Apart from the need for food storage, we design the layout to avoid crew getting in each other’s way by ensuring doors open without blocking access routes, while chefs and sous chefs need separate preparation and cooking zones and serving areas.

A well-equipped galley will soon have the chef swearing if the layout is ineffective.

Cleaning is something that crew has either at the front or back of their minds. Designing decks that drain well and reducing the amount of stainless steel that needs to be polished are just a couple of features we try to incorporate into our designs to save on cleaning time for crew. In an ideal world, all the components would not need replacing but in the real world we try, wherever possible, to ensure these are accessible to crewmembers so that they don’t need to have the flexibility of an octopus when parts need replacing. We even consider laundry insomuch as it needs to be removed and refreshed inconspicuously. Therefore, pacing laundry cupboards near cabins is always the goal, with crew stairwells wide enough for both crew and laundry.

Charter and private yachts operate differently and place different demands on crew. If we know the operating profile of the yacht we can bias volume allocation for fewer laundry machines and more crew accommodation or crew mess, for example. The same goes for the owner’s relationship with crew and whether or not the crew need a separate mess, separate chef etc.

Regulations have helped and hindered crew. Although LY3 has, in many cases, improved crew cabin-floor areas, it has also resulted in the owner losing space to crew. Solutions included fewer crew cabins or more sharing the same shower room – both not ideal for crew.

Looking forward, the more crew and captains see – and have an opinion on – proposed layouts and designs before any steel is cut can only improve their standard of living. By providing us with a prioritised wishlist (and a ‘do-not-want’ list!), we can design these features at an early stage, so please always feel free to get in touch with us. Small ideas such as self-serve fridges, coffee machines and fruit bowls can all help crew allocate their time more effectively, while also giving owners and guests a more relaxed time without having to call crew, wait and lose privacy.


If you like reading our Editors' premium quality journalism on SuperyachtNews.com, you'll love their amazing and insightful opinions and comments in The Superyacht Report. If you’ve never read it, click here to request a sample copy - it's 'A Report Worth Reading'. If you know how good it is, click here to subscribe - it's 'A Report Worth Paying For'.