As one of the few to have worked alongside distinguished designer Jon Bannenberg, Tim Heywood stands out in more ways than one. The British exterior designer has sketched over 30 yachts since setting up his own studio in 1996. Some of his projects include 115m Pelorus, 110m Dilbar, 85.6m Cakewalk and 133m Al Mirqab. Last year alone saw the delivery of four Tim Heywood designs from Dutch shipyard Amels. Here Tim discusses what makes it hard to work with certain clients and offers advice to those new to yachting.

Tim Heywood at his studio
Images by Justin Ratcliffe

How do you get introduced to owners?

We get some contacts from brokers but the majority of work comes straight from the client or the client’s right-hand man. They phone up and say how they’ve seen this boat and that boat, and describe what it is they like and how it is my work that they like.
The type of clients we work with is quite varied. For instance our youngest client is in their late 20s and our most mature client is in their late 60s. We have had clients older than that in the past but I would say late 60s is the eldest at the moment. I like to keep in regular contact with clients though, even once a project is complete.

What is the most challenging type of client?
The most challenging clients are those who give me the greatest amount of freedom on a project, as that puts more responsibility on my shoulders. For instance, a client who wants a 100m and leaves me to go and design it can be more challenging than someone who gives me a more detailed brief to work with.

Tim Heywood at SuperyachtDESIGN Summit 2012 with Andrew Winch and Terry Disdale

What should owners be careful of when approaching a new project?
I believe it is very important that owners work with people with experience, especially if they are new to the industry. They need to insist on total transparency across the board.
I think owners also need to be cautious of opting for ‘swoopy-doopy’ lines, as these are a passing fashion. You have to bear in mind that whatever you build, it has to be washed down every day and so it has to be a practical design.