The brief for this year’s edition of The Superyacht Design Forum was as follows: ‘Invite leaders and innovators external to the world of superyachts to share their unique perspectives on our industry, and inspire us with their own design and business processes’.

Further to requests from delegates wishing to hear from people that they would not see at any other superyacht industry event, we searched far and wide for these leaders and innovators with the aim of providing delegates with the tools they need to look at our industry, as well as the issues we face, with a fresh pair of eyes to catalyse genuine change.

“How did you find me?”, asked Saku Sysiö, co-founder and designer at award-winning Nordic design agency, Aivan, as he settled into Oficina Inglesa’s decadent showroom to commence his session at The Superyacht Design Forum 2019. Having recently developed the world’s first microbe-grown headphones, using technology that enables the design and engineering of new biological organisms, Sysiö fit the brief for an out of this industry and arguably out of this world design process. The perfect host for an inspiring session on the synthetic biology movement to surprise, entertain and engage our delegates. Sysiö successfully illustrated the necessity for this technology which is playing a key part in the transition from fossil-based economies to sustainable, circular bio-economies.

The answer to Sysiö’s question can be found within another session, where three of our speakers formed an unrivalled panel to discuss the importance of social media – a tool which we are now aware our industry is not using to its full potential, and the tool in which we came across Aivan, Sysiö, and thus the SynBio movement.

Matthijs Rhee, otherwise known to his loyal Instagram followers as ‘@MrSuperyachts’, kicked off the session with an industry comparison. “Let’s take a look at Lamborghini’s following on Instagram… 20.5M followers,” Rhee commented. “Now let’s look at Riva, one of our industries most famous brands...206K followers”. The reason for this? Panellist Chris Donnelly, founder of Verb Brands, believes it is down to “the perceived inaccessibility of yachts in general, especially compared to cars”, and, touching on a topic that received a necessary amount of airtime at The Superyacht Design Forum; “the perception that the products are quite unsustainable,” Donnelly continued.

Ben Jeffries, CEO and co-founder of Influencer, commented on a new approach for the superyacht industry to consider, as “a lot of brands are trying to sell a product unnecessarily deeply. It’s much more important to sell the journey (of the product)”, Jeffries continued. “It’s about selling the lifestyle – and this is what Ferrari do. They sell the experiences that surround Ferrari.” Taking into consideration another brand’s approach, Jeffries asked delegates to consider Redbull. “They rarely sell the product - they sell the cool experiences around it, to make customers feel part of something bigger”. As Redbull and Ferrari position themselves away from product selling, the superyacht industry should consider “repositioning itself away from the mass perception of superyachts [on social media platforms],” commented Donnelly.

“A lot of brands are trying to sell a product unnecessarily deeply. It’s much more important to sell the journey" - Ben Jeffries, CEO and co-founder of Influencer

Our industry’s target market is changing, and this will arguably affect every aspect of superyacht design. “Over the next ten years, we will see the biggest generational shift in wealth that has ever occurred,” Donnelly commented, “and this generation consists of the most digitally savvy people on the planet, who have all had technology from an incredibly young age, meaning it is naïve to think that future superyacht owners won’t be on these channels”, compared to current owners who are mostly inactive or uninterested in social media – something for our industry to seriously consider…

"Over the next ten years, we will see the biggest generational shift in wealth that has ever occurred" - Chris Donnelly, founder of Verb Brands

Also found through the beauty of social media was Jordan Söderberg Mills, an artist who specializes in creating unique atmospheres as well as both inspirational and relaxing environments, driven by his work with light. Providing delegates with a new way of seeing, Mills began his workshop with the statement “fine art really contributes to the ambience of a location”. As Mills continued, his visionary ideas with glass and light invited delegates to look at their surroundings in the twinkling Porta Romana showroom through a new perspective, using his creation ‘Looking Glass’ - the world’s first hand-held “Instagram” filter.

At our flagship event, The Superyacht Forum, taking place in November, our theme is ‘building for the next generation’, and we expect to see the topic of social media rearing its head once more…

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Design Centre Chelsea Harbour


If you have enjoyed reading this article, you’ll love our upcoming event, The Superyacht Design Forum, taking place on 25 - 26 June 2019 at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour. The Superyacht Design Forum provides anyone in the superyacht design world with a unique opportunity to explore new thinking and share smarter solutions for the future of superyachts. To find out more or to register, click here.