We receive many cool and creative designs from studios around the world and 2013 was a year full of creativity. It is difficult to highlight any developing trends or popular features in design, as the aim of any good studio is to create something new and fresh. However, there were two design features that kept reappearing last year, namely drive in tender garages and departure lounges (read a full design report in the annual report of The Superyacht Report, issue 150). While these were evident to us, what has the design community noticed? What lessons have been learned and what should owners consider for projects starting in 2014? We speak to design studios to hear what we could expect to see this year.

Espen Oeino on Stella Maris (image by Guillaume Plisson)

What design lessons have you learned over the past 12 months that owners should take note of on a new project?
“The introduction of the MLC [Marine Labour Code] into the design of yachts is turning into quite a challenge, particularly on the smaller yachts. I am not sure yacht owners fully appreciate the impact it has on the space planning of new yachts. Due to the increased space requirements it will inevitable influence the cost of yachts unless clients chose to reduce their living spaces to compensate, which I think is highly unlikely. This is clearly an area owners should take note of if they intend to go into a new build project.” — Espen Oeino, managing director, Espen Oeino International.

“One thing that most owners don’t consider when they think about building a new yacht is the operation of it. Things such as how the crew will get around the vessel, the ease of maintaining it and the way in which they will serve you is often not considered. Most experienced owners will be aware of this but for first time owners, it is something that they need to be educated on subtly.” — Andrew Langton, director, Reymond Langton Design.

“If a yacht is going to be going into a refit period, whether for the existing owner or immediately following a purchase, it is risky for an owner or captain to act as the project manager; it is far more prudent to hire an objective and dedicated refit manager. An objective project manager can provide the experience-based foresight necessary to keep the project moving efficiently, with a higher likelihood of meeting quality, schedule, and budget expectations.” — Peter Buescher, director of Fathom Studio, Donald L Blount and Associates.  

“The rapid evolution of touch-pad user interfaces on yachts, large and small, means that a system that is selected in the early stages of a multi-year build may be obsolete on launch day. We design placeholder infrastructure for smart systems while leaving their final selection to the later stages of a project whenever possible. Many of the current systems are excellent, allowing a guest to operate window blinds and entertainment systems, or make drink and snack selections from an iPad or phone for delivery by crew. But so much more will be possible on a yacht due to be launched in 2016 or 2017 that we advise owners to forestall the final system selection.” — Bill Prince, President, Bill Prince Yacht Design.

What can owners expect to see next year in terms of new designs? Is there a particular area of the yacht that you believe requires fresh thinking?

“I think we will see a massive increase in the use of glass. It might even be used as a structural material. This will aid in the request for more natural light on board, which will require a different design approach going forward. Developments in the layout will also be seen, specifically the continued inclusion of beach clubs at the stern. I see these larger areas being used in the evening as a sort of lounge area or private clubs, as well as during the day. However, fresh thinking is needed in the forward area, as this is often not used because it is the windiest part of the yacht. A fresh approach is also needed to areas of the yacht that are often ‘hidden’, such as the engine room. On yachts bigger than 55m, I think this area needs to be looked at differently, as it could be created in a way that shows off the heart of the boat.” — Antonio Romano, director, Hot Lab.

“The broad availability of variable-privacy glass, combined with the willingness of many yards to work in carbon fiber means we can re-think the way spaces are divided on the main deck. In some cases we can replace a solid partition with a structural equivalent, sculptural carbon fiber ‘ring frame’ and float a sheet of privacy glass inside the perimeter.
We find that clients are much more open to multihull and other alternative hull forms today than they ever have in years gone past. And we have a couple of clients for whom we are developing low-maintenance, go-anywhere cruising motoryachts for use with minimal or no crew, boats in the 24m – 35m range.” — Bill Prince, President, Bill Prince Yacht Design.

“I like the idea of drive in tender bays and have incorporated such thinking into a couple of proposals in the past. However, I’ve heard that in bad weather and choppy sea, this type of tender garage can be very dangerous. Taking tenders alongside is not good either, as you often don’t have enough freeboard, the water can slosh into the garage, the tenders can hit the cranes on the ceiling and so on. One thing that does work well is the Abeking & Rasmussen stern launching system. That is probably one of the best ways to get your tenders in and I imagine we will see more of these types of launch and retrieval systems.” — Andrew Langton, director, Reymond Langton Design.

“Technologies are being developed that may make large sat-com domes a thing of the past; regarding the styling of upper decks and mast geometries, this opens up enormous, even cavernous, doors to clean and elegant superstructure styling.” — Peter Buescher, director of Fathom Studio, Donald L Blount and Associates.