Off the back of a guest letter by Chris Bangle published in Q18, where the designer shared his thoughts on the state of superyacht design, we were contacted by a young designer keen to express some of the issues he has faced since graduating. Wishing to remain anonymous, the designer voices his thoughts on the issue of trust in the design industry. 

The yacht industry can be pretty daunting to enter as a young, ambitious designer, especially when you think that there are only a handful of names behind the most incredible vessels to float today. As a young design student I would think of these big name designers as demigods, untouchables and often wondered how I could get noticed by them. This was important to me so that I could one day become a yacht design demigod and stroll around the Monaco Yacht Show with an inherent omniscience.

Once I entered the industry I found that the world I dreamed about was not quite what I expected. The hours these beautiful beasts demand, years before their fruition, is somewhat incredible. It became apparent that to succeed it was going to take a lot more than being a good designer. You have to be willing to submit your entire creative conscience, sacrifice evenings, weekends and even holidays so that deadlines can be met. Waking up in the middle of the night with a brainwave that could solve a problem becomes common place and switching off becomes harder and harder. I’m not saying I was expecting to draw the odd profile and GA, then go for champagne in Casino Square every month, no. However, like most young people, I was naive – we think of the great possibilities that lie ahead and what we could achieve. Rarely do we think of the hard times we will have to endure to get there.

Around the time the great Jon Bannenberg turned his hand to luxury yachts a pattern emerged, which I believe now stands as a threat to every studio in the world. So many of the biggest names in our industry started working for the likes of Bannenberg and then went on to setup successful studios. This trend has continued with more and more studios emerging, run by young, ambitious designers like myself. Now this may seem like a natural progression in any industry, however, I believe it has brought fear to every director in the yacht design community. Fear that their investment in an employee could, at any moment, walk out the door and set up on their doorstep.

Many individuals wouldn’t admit to being fearful of their employees but it’s obvious to me, and I’m sure my peers, that trust is rare in this industry. Like any other, without trust, a relationship is unlikely to last. If you don’t feel trusted in the office then there is the potential to feel bitter and resentful to those above you. This then becomes a contributing factor to the need to leave. It’s a vicious circle, as trust is a two way street – as an employee you need to trust that your employer will do right by you, as long as you perform to your best. As an employer you must trust that the more you share with your employee and empower them, the more likely they are to stay. It’s basic business psychology and can be linked to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Often our basic needs are dealt with but our esteem needs cannot be mastered without trust and respect from others, in particular your boss.

Our industry is showing signs of growth again and I strongly believe that with a little more trust, honesty and straight talking, we can all achieve self actualisation.