What is the key ingredient in a good relationship between a client and designer?
Communication is the key and involves a number of levels. A lot of it is about listening to what the client wants and in using personal experience to interpret those thoughts to produce something that the client truly wants and will get them excited. Some clients are better than others in conveying what they want and this is when you have to try and entice what they want out of them. Another important thing to learn how to be patient, as sometimes clients will change their mind or there will be a problem at the shipyard. Sometimes you have to explore a number of solutions before you can find the best solution to a problem. One thing that has to be remembered is that this is the client’s project and they have to enjoy the construction process and so you have to do everything you can to make the experience enjoyable.
How have requests from owners changed over the past 10 years?
There have been no significant trends that have developed that I’ve seen, as every owner is different but some are more hands on than others. The way in which you work with them depends on them but we sometimes get owners who design with us and send us their ideas and we try and incorporate them wherever we can. However, sometimes these ideas need to be redirected or modified in order to work with the overall feel and look that they are after. A good example of this was with a client of ours who saw a drive-in tender bay at the last Monaco Yacht Show. You drive your tender into the side of the yacht and the doors close behind you and the water drains out. It is a very cool feature and our client said, “I really like that, I want that on my yacht!” He wanted to use a Riva as the tender. We looked at the hull with our naval architect and concluded that the hull shape just wouldn’t be able to support such an idea and couldn’t be done without significantly reworking the hull.
If you could have your own yacht, what would it be?
I would want something like an 80ft trawler that was comfortable and could accommodate my family and would allow us to go to a lot of places. Not necessarily flashy because I have two young kids, I would probably avoid anything too luxurious for the interior. I would avoid precious objects on board otherwise I would be worried about it being damaged. I could see myself owning a yacht that you could take anywhere and provide a nice home away from home while at sea. I would want something on the smaller end of the scale because I like doing things myself. I grew up cruising with my family in the days when yachts were big and you didn’t need a crew. It was just my brother, my father, my mother and I. The idea of having all these extra people on board is different from my experiences. For my yacht, it would have to be a balance between fitting all the family on and not having to have 10 crew members in order to go out for the day. I could be persuaded to go for a captain and a first mate but I like to cook and have the entire boat for the family so wouldn’t want more than this.